Friday, April 3, 2009

Preparing for the 2010 Vote

March, 2009

I just got an email from one of our volunteers. She’s going to start organizing to support military voting at a military base. Her question was basically “Where do I start?” It so happens that she is a member of one of the local political parties, and volunteers there often. She’s politically active, in other words. You’d expect that from someone who is volunteering to help military personnel become informed on voting issues (both local and national), and also to help them cast their votes. This is downright Jeffersonian, and altogether commendable.

So, our incipient volunteer went to her local political party headquarters to find out where to get started in getting military people into the voting process. Why? Because she naively thought political parties are supposed to care – about the process, and about our servicemen. Here’s an excerpt from her email to me:
The (party) chair did not have any suggestions as it is so hard to keep track of military coming and going from different states and cities….

This illustrates a great truth, in just one phrase – And it doesn’t matter which political party our volunteer is affiliated with. It is this – None of our political parties give a flying f#@% about military voters. (Politically Correct Caveat - My comments are not meant to demean “flying f#@%s” as a group. Most “flying f#@%s” are loyal, hardworking Americans. I myself, have several friends who are “flying f#@%s”, and one who is a flaming “flying f#@%”).

“But Don”, you say, “Surely the conservatives love our soldiers.” In truth, I really think every red-blooded American loves our servicemen. But here’s where I make you face the cold hard facts – the real truth of the matter is – if you don’t vote, you are invisible to any of the political parties – military personnel don’t vote, so the parties don’t care – at all.

Let me repeat that – there is no military vote. Right now, today, our soldiers can’t vote. According to a recent Pew study, over half the States have what amount to impenetrable barriers to voting by our servicemen and women. Since they can’t vote, they have no voice. No voice means our servicemen and women are politically useless to the parties and politicians (except for the photo every one of them has in their election brochure and in their office). Since there is no military vote, the politicians devote their efforts to groups that do vote, however poor that voting record is – since it is sure to be better than the military voting record.

It’s a conundrum. Our fighting force can’t vote, so they have no clout, so the politicians feel no obligation to pass meaningful voting legislation to help them vote.

But, there is a way out. You just have to get enough votes turned in, regardless of the obstacles, to show you are a force. It doesn’t matter what you vote for, or what candidate you support. If military ballots show up at the polls in any numbers at all, every politician worth his earmarks will bend over backwards to pander to you. They just can’t help themselves – they’ll do damn near anything for a vote.

One of the worst voting cohorts in our society is the 18-24 age group. Yet the political parties move mountains to get the “youth vote”. Why aren’t they interested in the same cohort in the military? You guessed it. The military voting record is even worse. It’s only about a third of the horrible voting record of their civilian compatriots. All the civilian youth voter has to do is sober up by Tuesday to vote. For a serviceman to vote, he needs to move the heavens, the earth, ten layers of barnacle encrusted bureaucrats, and the US Snail.

But they can. They must. Count US In wants to help.

Count US In, along with friends, family and veterans organizations, is organizing right now for the 2010 elections. We want to help our servicemen break the code on the ridiculous Civil War technology (US Snail) they’re forced to use to vote today. We want to help bring military votes to the ballot boxes in November 2010, so they become a force to be reckoned with. If they vote, the parties and the politicians will not be able to ignore them. The parties think the military will all vote alike (what the hell do they know), but that doesn’t matter at all. If they see growing numbers of military votes, the military will become a force, and will have a voice. Having a voice means some encrusted bureaucrat at the Dept of Defense may spend an extra minute to get those deployment orders right this time – it means the Armed Services Committees will address soldier’s issues instead of just procurement issues – it means they’ll pay attention at Veteran’s Affairs after a soldier gets out of the service – it means all the parties will beat a path to the serviceman’s door. It means a lot – it means their rightful place at the table.

In our system, a vote means everything. If you don’t vote, you don’t matter. Right now the system is rigged to make our military fail at the ballot box. Let’s change that right now.

The election of 2010 is just around the corner. To influence State legislatures in time to force improved legislation, we need to mobilize NOW! To be represented, our military needs power. To get power, they have to vote. To vote, our military needs a grateful nation’s help.

But wait!!! There’s more!!! We want to Count YOU In! Get off your ass, and kick some politician around a bit. You pay that politician’s salary, so get your money’s worth. We’ll show you how, and it feels great. Then, we need you to support our troops with something besides a bumper sticker. To get all this started, just go to the Count US In website , and Volunteer, Donate, Call, Write, Tweet (@militaryvote).
Ruck the Vote!!!

Small Print
Don Johnson and Count US In want all our military personnel to exercise their right to vote, and we want their families, friends and other veterans to help motivate and facilitate those votes. We also want everyone to kick around a politician about once a week – especially State politicians who are primarily responsible for voting laws. Your comments, suggestions, donations, and input are welcome at . If you are unfamiliar with the term Ruck the Vote, then you are a slacker and haven’t read all of Don’s rants – do your homework and read them at the website. Wanna kick my butt? Feel free to try to at the website

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