Why voting for Martha Coakley matters
You may have heard about how close the special Senate election coming up on January 19 is. It’s forgivable if you haven’t, since it’s only gotten press in recent days, and it’s unusual: Democratic candidate Martha Coakley is running neck and neck with Republican candidate Scott Brown. Few expected things to be this close, and the closeness of the election caught the Coakley campaign off guard.
You may wonder, “So what? What does this have to do with me? They’ll all go to Washington and spend money and do nothing for me. Why should I bother to vote?” Fair enough. Washington has let us down before, and as Americans, disparaging our government is something of a national pastime. And this country has seen quite a lot of debt piled up over the past decade, so how can we be sure anyone will spend our money wisely?
We can’t be sure of anything, of course. If you find yourself let down by the people you voted to send to Washington, well… it wouldn’t be the first time. Disappointment in leaders has been around for as long as leaders have. It’s nothing new. But one thing about democracy is that we have a say in electing our leaders, and this system, for all its flaws, actually works. Some would like for you to give up on it, to say, “My one vote doesn’t matter; I’ll just stay home.” But it does matter. Odds are your one single vote won’t swing an election one way or another, but your vote matters when it comes to how close an election is. If an election is close, the party you don’t like looks stronger. But strong turnout for the party that best represents what you believe in means that whoever gets elected will more feel that their job depends on what the voters think. That’s where you—and me, and everyone—make a difference.
Martha Coakley hasn’t done a whole lot to ask for our votes. Scott Brown hasn’t, either. Scott Brown has asked for your vote if you believe that insurance companies should be allowed to decide whether or not they feel like letting everyone in the country have health insurance. Scott Brown has asked for your vote if you believe that hospitals should be allowed to turn away rape victims if the hospitals want to. Scott Brown has asked for your vote if you believe that wealthy people’s taxes should be cut so we can cut services like mass transit, Social Security and public schools. If you haven’t heard much from Scott Brown, it’s probably because he has no reason to think you like his positions. And, if you’re from Massachusetts, you probably don’t.
So that was Martha Coakley’s miscalculation. Scott Brown is a good politician; Martha Coakley is not. However, we need to get someone in Washington who will work for us, even if they don’t look so good on TV. Scott Brown has vowed to vote against any health care reform in Congress, if he’s elected. Martha Coakley has vowed to vote for it. Do you care whether health care reform passes or not? Do you feel comfortable with the idea that if you or your family, friends and neighbors lose their jobs, health care suddenly dries up, too? Maybe you don’t—that’s your business. If you think health care doesn’t cost too much and is fine the way it is (as multimillionaire Rush Limbaugh recently said,) then Scott Brown’s your candidate. But if you want reform, vote for the candidate who will go to the Senate and work to make sure that health care reform passes. Because if it doesn’t pass, we probably won’t see anyone try to reform it for another ten or fifteen years, at least. That’s a lot of taxpayer-funded emergency room visits. Can you really afford to wait that long for health care?
Please vote for Martha Coakley on January 19. If you live in the Boston area, email me at email@example.com and I will give you a free ride to the polls. Yes, this is that important.