Pundits think, and history has shown, that not many of us will make it to the polls today. It is after all, only a local election, not a high-profile, high-turnout presidential one. But that would be a shame.
These are historic times. Look away from D.C. for a minute to marvel at the sheer size of our city’s ballot this year: 52 people running for City Council, more than in any time since the 1970s. Another 14 running for City Commissioner. Two African-American women looking to upset the sheriff’s race (the first time a black woman would be elected to the post). If there’s a moment to be a part of deciding who gets to lead this great city for the next four years, this is it.
As Congressman John Lewis has put it: “The vote is precious. It’s almost sacred, so go out and vote like you never voted before.”
Here are some reasons why you should:
- Because you favor the soda tax—or you want it overturned. You think Councilmanic Prerogative should go—or you think it’s just fine. You want Philly to join every big city in instituting term limits for City Council members—or you think we don’t need them. You want clean streets—or would rather not move your car. Most of the candidates have opinions on these issues, and a host of others, and they are your proxy for addressing them.
You live here. Which means you probably care about how Philly works. Well, guess what? How Philly works depends on the people we put in charge of it. It’s as simple as that.
- Because you live here. Which means you probably care about how Philly works. Well, guess what? How Philly works depends on the people we put in charge of it. It’s as simple as that.
- Because last year, the Eagles won the Super Bowl, this year the 76ers came so close, and this summer we get to to experience a Phillies with Bryce Harper. We’re feeling good about our sports; it’s time to feel good about our politics, too.
- Because more than 50 people put their hats in the ring to run for City Council—more than in the last four decades—and have spent months trying to make their case. They did the hard part. Your part is easy.
- Because in his first term, Mayor Jim Kenney kept about 64 percent of his 2015 campaign promises. You can let him know what you think of that—by voting.
- Because it’s habit-forming. Research shows that voting begets more voting. Which means, you just need to start.
- Because you are disgruntled with our politicians. It’s okay to be like W.C. Fields, who famously said, “Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.”
- Because if you don’t vote, then the message to our “elected” leaders is clear: You don’t care. The list of who votes is public (though not who you vote for). And politicians often make decisions based on that information. Want your City Councilperson to care about young people? Then young people need to vote. Ditto any other demographic, ditto you.
- Because the ballot questions involve real-life issues like immigration and traffic—and anyone, even independents, can vote on those.
- Because the eyes of the country are on us: Former Vice President Joe Biden is putting his presidential campaign headquarters here, we are going to be crucial to whatever happens in November 2020, and we have a chance to show that we matter.
- Because you—and your electoral voice—matter.
- Because indicted District Councilman Bobby Henon is running unopposed in the 6th District, and was endorsed by the Democratic party machine. They will continue deciding everything for us, if we don’t decide for ourselves. And look where that’s gotten us.
- Because the children are counting on you. It’s hard to be a young person in America these days. They feel under threat from violence, debt, a lack of jobs where they live, schools that don’t meet up to the challenge. For those who can’t vote yet, your voice matters; for those who can, you voice still matters.
- Because is there a better excuse to cut out of work early or show up late?
- Because if India can get 900 million voters to the polls (over the course of several weeks, granted), we should be able to get 1/1000th of that number to vote in Philly today.
- Because young voters are paying attention. Sure, they still don’t vote in large enough numbers; but local youth turnout in 2018 increased by 111 percent. Let’s meet their challenge and do the same.
- Because, speaking of young people, this election we could finally vote in a Millennial on Council.
- Because until 99 years ago, women couldn’t do it. Suffragettes were jailed, scorned and shunned for demanding the vote. Don’t let them have suffered in vain.
- Because the Philly shrug—our laissez faire attitude towards corruption and influence in our politics—only disappears if we demand it.
- Because as the birthplace of American democracy, we should be a model for the whole country—the whole world even.
- Because you can.
Header image by Martha Rich, available for sale as a poster or postcards.Photo via Martha Rich