Have a Conversation - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2045956

Have a Conversation

I was inspired to write this letter after talking with a dear friend. You know the kind — the friend who talks to you about money, religion and politics, and you don’t feel like they are taboo subjects.

In September, The Southampton Press printed a letter that I had penned in which I strongly encouraged everyone to get out and vote [“Unused Votes Matter,” Letters, September 15]. That letter implied that voting is the final act of one’s participation in the political process, the ultimate statement of your belief in democracy and your definitive message about who you believe should represent you in elected office.

But voting shouldn’t be the final act in the process of exercising one’s civic duty — it should be the first.

It is possible that a voter and a candidate could be in complete agreement on every issue that the elected official will eventually work on; however, it is far more likely that a vote for a candidate is a statement of general support for their viewpoints and not a complete endorsement of every issue. It may also be that a vote really represents a vote against the other candidate as much as it is a vote of support. But elected officials would have no way of knowing what any vote really means, other than to conclude that they, the winning candidate, are supported by the voter.

Elected officials do sometimes have viewpoints on issues that are unpopular with a majority of the supporting voters, but the vote alone will not reveal these unpopular positions. The only way to truly have your voice heard is to participate in conversations with your elected officials, and preferably to do so with a group of other like-minded citizens.

Speaking with elected officials on the national stage may be hard or even impossible, but local politicians do want to engage with their constituents, do generally make it easy to communicate with them, and are more likely to respond, since each voter represents a greater percentage of the total voting voice. Simply put, local politicians want to be in alignment with the beliefs of their constituents.

Voting is the first step. Take the next step and become an active voice about the issues that are important to you. Let your local representative know what you are thinking about. And don’t be afraid to speak up; your opinion is welcomed and very important.

Money, religion and politics should not be taboo with your local politician. They want to know what is important to you.

Tracy A. Davey

Westhampton Beach