Working towards peace and sustainability

As the Election Approaches

As we write, the seemingly interminable 2016 campaign is headed toward its conclusion. The national election is finally less than two weeks off.

As you likely know, Peaceworks does not endorse, support or oppose candidates for office. As an educational and advocacy group we take strong stands on issues but, when it comes to candidates, we do what we can to inform our members and supporters as to where the candidates stand, without ever lending support to specific candidates.

Earlier this month we published on-line the results of a survey of candidates for Missouri legislative seats and statewide Missouri offices, focused on issues of energy and climate change. If you’ve not yet seen this report, we invite you to check it out. Just CLICK HERE.

Peaceworks does encourage active citizenship. We recognize voting as an integral part of our civic life in a self-governing republic, even given the flawed electoral system we live under. We, at Peaceworks, are deeply troubled by the role of money in politics and the disproportionate influence that a relative handful of billionaires and multi-millionaires has in our political process. We support putting limits on campaign financing, overturning not just Citizens United, but also Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 Supreme Court decision that  equated money with speech.

We are also disturbed by efforts at voter suppression and intimidation. We support efforts to make voting as easy and convenient as possible so that all those eligible to vote can do so. This includes supporting expanded voting opportunities through early voting and providing the option for mail-in voting for all who wish to vote this way. We also oppose efforts to make it harder to register by requiring documents that may be difficult for some people, particularly low-income and the elderly, to provide.

Peaceworks has also long been a supporter of other electoral reforms including the adoption of Ranked Choice Voting (aka Instant Runoff Voting). This sort of reform addresses the problems caused by our plurality (not majority) wins system, which allows candidates to win with less than majority support in races with three or more candidates.  This so-called “spoiler factor” leads to less than democratic outcomes and causes many voters to cast a strategic vote, rather than voting for the candidate who comes closest to their views. More information on this important reform is available if you CLICK HERE.

We are profoundly aware of the fact that elections have consequences. When the votes are counted and the winners announced, those people will then play a major role in governance for the next two, four or even six years. They will promulgate policy, vote on legislation, nominate and confirm (or not confirm) judicial appointments.

It will matter if the people we elect acknowledge the reality of climate change, or if they deny it. It will matter if they support economic and tax policies that benefit working people, or ones that benefit those already very wealthy. It will matter what policies they embrace on a long list of domestic and international concerns. It will matter whose finger is on the nuclear trigger.

Each of us, when we vote, plays a very modest, but still important, role in deciding who these elected officials will be. We encourage you to become well informed and make your decisions wisely, paying attention to the likely consequences of your votes.

We also urge you to recognize that, while voting is important, it is a very modest part of what active, engaged citizenship is all about. Voting usually takes place one to three times a year. If you spend 20 minutes at the polls, you spend less than an hour a year voting. This should leave room for other, more meaningful, forms of citizenship, including working with grassroots groups to promote action on issues you’re concerned about, attendance at public meetings, communicating with elected officials, communicating about the issues with fellow citizens, publicly demonstrating your concerns and lots more.

We, at Peaceworks, hope that many of you reading this will want to work with us as we address the Climate Crisis, war and peace concerns, sustainable living and lots more. We do hope that you will get out to vote on November 8, recognizing that, while this is the end of a campaign season, it is just a step on the long and winding road to creating a brighter future for all. We look forward to working with you on as we move forward.