As we observe a few moments of restful reflection on this, the Sunday before Election Day, it’s worth noting that “normal” people (i.e., those not consumed by single-issue advocacy) at this moment are, for the most part, thinking more about their Thanksgiving plans, or football, or raking the rest of the the leaves than they are about Tuesday. Or even the hospital. Or term limits, for those who live in Utica.
Truth be told, although everyone should vote in every election–given what our country has sacrificed to ensure free and fair elections–the record shows that turnout is greatest in Presidential election years, followed by years in which Congressional and statewide races are decided, with “strictly local” years dead last. (Actually, turnout for many school district elections pretty much wins the lowest turnout sweepstakes, but municipal races are close behind.) Low turnout on Tuesday, then, is an unfortunate likelihood.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably going to vote Tuesday anyway; so there’s no need for us to urge people to go to the polls. We’d just like to mention, whatever some folks might hope for, that elections are best decided by voting for the best candidates–not by a focus on a single issue. Interestingly, in today’s O-D, a survey of candidates asking them to describe the “biggest issue facing Utica” revealed surprisingly few “single-issue” adherents.
From the beginning of our short existence as a voice online and on social media, we have disagreed with attempts to politicize the hospital issue. It’s true that municipal politics can be a responsive resource for those who feel their issues are unheard and ignored (cue the patriotic music!), but it can also be an ugly stick with which to beat back progress. In the present case, deliberately attaching the hospital location to other hot-button issues–especially Utica’s term limits kerfuffle–has created a swamp (or, perhaps, a Utica marsh) of negativity and doubt, all aimed at influencing voter decisions and public opinion.
So, by all means, vote or not–that is your democratic choice–and, if you go to the polls, vote for the best candidates overall. For tomorrow, as in “the day after the election,” will be, as Scarlett O’Hara observed, “another day.” Progress will not be deterred by the voices of negativity or the results of a single municipal election.