The crucible of civics is found in voting
November 5, 2013
By Peter Clark
While most surely welcome an end to another election season, I must put in a positive word about civics.
Of course elections invariably lead to combative, negative emotions that pit one camp against another, but I prefer to view the hallowed democratic activity as offering a chance to further a personal and community-driven dialogue.
A local perspective makes this sentiment all the more relative. Here in Issaquah, we had the chance to see two longtime community leaders stand up for their personal vision of what the city’s future should look like and offer their services to lead it there. An ardent and thoughtful voter must weigh those options against a future they want to pursue.
These questions do not normally arise in every day life. Whether an upcoming election inspires deep discussion or just a cursory consideration, it involves citizens in a very meaningful way. How should our city, state, country evolve and grow? Elections bring options and ideas. This allows citizens to consider not only which align more with personal beliefs, but also how personal beliefs have changed with time. Age, responsibilities, experiences all work to reshape shifting conceptions of government. What better time to put them to the test than an election?
The last two years, I have lived in respectively new places. The election cycles have been wonderfully engaging for me, replete with new candidates, new initiatives, new issues and new choices. I value elections to abruptly challenge me and my changing values. Having the luxury to spend as much time as I do covering local city government gives me even greater perspective that affects my reasoning.
Obviously, I have a degree in Political Science. I value the staff and teachers at my university who proceeded to beat emotion out of my political assumptions. I now try to meet decisions with a logical, critical eye and a severe understanding that there are few real truths to be found in politics.
All in all, it is just a series of competing interests and who has enough information to absolutely say which interest is definitely more valuable than another. This is a simplistic and optimistic view, but it allows me to try and always consider the other side of a stance. This view also makes me review my political leanings.
As I love to be challenged and taken to task, elections sure do the trick. I find it exciting to be instrumental in enacting government change, even if it is just one vote. I also find it exhilarating to find my stance on an issue has shifted or reassuring to know I still hold the same values on another.
I hope you enjoyed voting as much as I did.