Conventional wisdom teaches us that voting is supposed to be what makes democracy tick. Textbooks would have us believe our greatest act of public participation comes from the single ballot we cast that contributes to the election of our political leaders. But really, stop and ponder this: how many times has a single vote made the difference in an election? If you happen to live in a dinky hamlet in some abandoned corner of nowhere, then maybe your vote will someday “matter”—if only in deciding an election that doesn’t.
As for the rest of us, we’re deluding ourselves if we believe voting is the best or only way to make our voices heard in our democracy. Voting is a passive activity that enables citizens to tell themselves they’ve participated.
I’m not saying “don’t vote”—rather, “don’t only vote.” Do more. Take part actively in the public dialogue. Supplement your electoral enthusiasm with more productive forms of civic engagement.
If suffrage is the symbolic heartbeat of freedom, its legwork and brainpower both come from civic participation. All citizens have a right to be informed, and to be engaged in public affairs. Such civic involvement requires that you proactively take part.
Use your voice; it’s the most powerful instrument you have as an ordinary citizen. Use it in every way you know how.
You can exact far more change with your voice than you can with how you vote. That’s why no one has ever been sued for how they vote.
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Posted in American Association for Justice, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Barry University, Bill Pascrell, First Amendment, Florida, Frank Lautenberg, free speech, freedom of speech, Human Rights Radio, Kalamazoo, Laura Finley, New York Times, NPR, Public Participation Project, T & J Towing v. Kurtz, WBRY, tagged First Amendment, free speech, Human Rights Radio, SLAPP, SLAPPs, strategic lawsuit against public participation, WBRY on February 19, 2011|
Posted in Citizen Participation Act, Citizen Participation Act of 2009, First Amendment, free speech, freedom of speech, H.R. 4364, HR 4364, NAACP, SLAPP, Steve Cohen, Tennessee, tagged First Amendment, free speech, NAACP, Steve Cohen on September 6, 2010|
Posted in Afghanistan, Charlie Wilson, Charlie Wilson's War, citizenship, Cold War, Comins v VanVoorhis, cruelty to animals, First Amendment, free speech, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, George Crile III, Gust Avrakotos, Hollywood, Michael Vick, Mujahideen, Russia, SLAPP, Texas, United States, tagged Americans, animal cruelty, Charlie Wilson, Charlie Wilson's War, Christopher Comins, civic engagement, dogs, First Amendment, free speech, history, movies, pets, Politics on August 10, 2010|
Posted in Alabama, Anderson Cooper, BP, CNN, Declaration of Independence, Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Orleans, Uncategorized, tagged Anderson Cooper, Deepwater Horizon, free speech, Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Independence Day on July 2, 2010|
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As we celebrate birth of America and the signing of the Declaration of Independence this weekend, we shall do so knowing Thad Allen and the U.S. Coast Guard have just declared the exact opposite.
They are suspending the First Amendment in order to (more…)
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Posted in cruelty to animals, First Amendment, free speech, law, lawyers, tagged animal cruelty, First Amendment, free speech, law, legal blogging, PETA on May 6, 2010|