A few weeks ago, I was chatting with an audience member who reminded me of the importance of having a voice in the community. He was talking about all levels, from the presidential campaign to the local city council to national associations to the company’s project team. We discussed how lucky we were to be able to speak our mind—at a government rally, via a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM) within a code hearing, or simply with our co-workers.
He was doubtful, however, that enough people make their voices heard. His fearlessness in making a phone call or writing a letter is commendable. And he got me thinking—why don’t more people respond to calls to action for things that are important to them?
In 2012, for instance, 57.5% of eligible voting citizens voted in the U.S. presidential campaign. While the 2016 presidential election has brought out all sorts of emotions and discussions, I wonder if the number of people who vote will really change. For some perspective, voter turnout was 62.3% in 2008, 60.4% in 2004, and 54.2% in 2000. That’s approximately 58% over the past four presidential elections, which according to my math, means four in 10 people don’t have a voice in the presidential race.
The right to vote in an election is a call to action for me. There are lots of other calls to action that I choose to ignore—support a particular charity, take on a cause I don’t believe in—but making my voice heard when it directly impacts me is important.
I’m that person that takes surveys. I pick up the phone to chat with readers and advertisers. I respond to requests for feedback from companies with which I do business. If an employee makes a difference, I’ll try to notify the manager or business owner that they’ve done a good job. I participate in associations and community organizations. Yep, I’m THAT person.
If the presidential election is ignored by four in 10 eligible voters, what else is being ignored? Why aren’t there enough qualified people presenting at technical conferences? Why is no one putting their hand up when asked to volunteer at their local building department or zoning board? Why isn’t someone taking a junior staffer by the hand and showing them how things are done at their firm?
There are certainly many reasons for not participating in something. If it matters to you, though, make your voice heard.