Along with the public school, the library and the city park, the line forming to vote on Election Day is a reminder and reaffirmation of civic life in the United States. As public spaces shrink, these affirmations become more important, with friends and neighbors meeting on neutral ground to share the common bond of citizenship.
This is one reason to vote in the April 26 primary. Another, of course, is that by voting, we exercise a fundamental right as Americans, animating an institution that helps give democracy its name. Voting reminds us what free and fair elections — something not guaranteed everywhere — are all about. And for us in the Jewish community, it’s an absolute imperative that we use the rights we and our ancestors looked to this country to provide in the first place.
Do you think that your vote doesn’t matter? Think again. Whether you are a registered Republican or Democrat, you have an important voice in the presidential primary that takes place on Tuesday. It’s one thing to criticize the candidates and the campaigns from the sidelines, but without casting a ballot, yours will be a complaining voice instead of an invested one.
Looking closer to home, wherever you live, there are races on the ballot that will directly affect how your tax dollars are spent. Want government money to support parochial schools? Then vote for candidates backing that position. Do you adhere to a more traditional interpretation of the separation of church and state? Then make your voice heard at the ballot box in addition to at the picket line.
We urge you to speak your mind on Tuesday, not because it will lead to utopia, but because it will link you to your fellow citizens in the performance of something vital. That is an unusual occurrence in our atomized society.
American Jews have traditionally voted in high percentages. This is likely because as a small minority, we are jealous of our rights, and, while the memory persists of how our people were persecuted in whatever Old Country they lived in, we are grateful that the United States welcomed so many of us.
This year’s election season has presented choices like no other in recent memory. Much depends on the outcome. For all of these reasons, do not choose to be silent, and do not throw your vote away. Voting is our infrequent chance to demonstrate in the clearest of terms that ours is still a government by the people and for the people.