On November 5, Americans are invited to go to the polls and vote in our national election. For many of us, the voting booth symbolizes our participation in American democracy. The ballot is an icon of what it means to be involved citizens. Well, let me qualify that. Voting as an icon for performing one's civic duty relates only if you are among approximately 50 percent of eligible voters likely to turn out at the polls. Otherwise, it's irrelevant.
But casting a vote for people or issues is not as important as it may seem. You see, there is a critical adjective missing from the phrase "casting a vote." That adjective is informed and it belongs ahead of vote. The two words should be inseparable. It's a fairly pointless exercise to cast a vote for candidates and issues we know little or nothing about. That's obvious.
It's important for us to seek out and find what's going on and how it impacts our personal and professional lives long before the voting booth curtain closes. It's the prelude to voting. And, it's the hard part of citizenship. It's the work involved in participation in the process. Passive participation in the process is something many of us, especially those of us in manufacturing, can ill afford.
Manufacturing faces a daily battle to fight off encroachments into our livelihood. Many of these intrusions come from well meaning people who are generally clueless about the business of making things. Who is going to educate these people? We must.
I see this citizenship thing as a two-lane road. During a campaign, the candidate goes out and educates the voters on character and issues. It's our job to become informed. The information is there but sometimes it needs to be sought out.
On the other hand, how can industry expect understanding from our elected officials without explaining what we do, why it's important and how many of the required "good intentions" impact our businesses? We as individuals and as associations must actively campaign for ourselves by reaching out and educating our local, state and national officials.
We enjoy the right to vote. Along with the right however, comes the duty not to use our vote capriciously. Rather, we should approach each ballot as informed participants in the process. A process that continues everyday -- not just November 5.