Vote! Yes, your life depends on it

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It is estimated that 8.5 million African Americans voted for Barack Obama during the lengthy primary season. It is a remarkable number, and it contributed greatly to his triumph in several states. But there are 14 million African America registered voters

It is estimated that 8.5 million African Americans voted for Barack Obama during the lengthy primary season. It is a remarkable number, and it contributed greatly to his triumph in several states.

But there are 14 million African America registered voters, which means 5.5 million African American registered voters did not cast a vote. That is criminal, especially considering that the last two presidential elections were decided by the slimmest of margins, and in one case, decided only by a partisan vote by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The candidates have done their part. They have accepted a date with history.

Now it’s your turn. The millions of you who are registered to vote, come Nov. 4 there should be few reasons for not going out to cast your ballot. Suffrage is a hard-fought right attained through bloodshed for the African American people of this nation. It was finally obtained after years of humiliation and being considered mere property or, worse, sub-human. Being able to have a say in who runs the various elected posts and offices should not be taken for granted. From school board representatives to president of the United States, vote!

This year’s election has a number of crucial urgencies hanging in the balance: Gas prices, the mortgage loan crisis, unemployment, the war in Iraq, the economy, education funding disparities and health care accessibility and affordability. You have no voice in changing these issues if you don’t vote. Whatever your concern, the best way to address it is in the voting booth.

Voting is the clarion call of democracy. The polling place is the sure-fire way to have your voice heard. Leaders can’t put you on hold, and they can’t promise to call you back. They can’t pass the buck, your vote calls them on the carpet, straight up and out front. Your vote counts, but you must vote to be counted.

If you can’t think of a good reason to go out and vote Nov. 4, think of the more than 4,000 soldiers killed in a questionable war. Cast your ballot for the displaced families of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who saw their government buckle when they needed it most. Let your voice be heard: a 6 percent unemployment rate is a shame for the world’s most powerful nation. Help politicians understand that you won’t tolerate families lacking health care in a nation that spends $1 billion a month on a war. Vote!

Re-cork the celebratory libations for those oil giants reaping hand-over-hand profits as you deplete your savings accounts and dig deep in the sofa cushions trying to pay to fill your gas tank.

The candidate is your choice, but you should definitely choose to vote. The last day to register is Oct. 7. For more information, call (312) 269- 7960 for voter registration in the city or (312) 603-0906 for voter registration in Cook County. Or, go online to http://www.chicagoelections.com.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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