and Election 2004
This article appears in the October 2004 issue of the Southern Motorcycle Times Magazine
It is election time in this country and once again we all have to make some difficult decisions. The first choice some of you have to make is whether you should register to vote. I think we all know the answer to that question as the last president election was decided by only a few votes. ONE VOTE DOES COUNT.
The other choices we have to make are not that easy. Bush or Kerry? One US Senator over another? Which state legislator do we choose? Which district judge do we select? That is where the work comes in. The media tries to stereotype bikers as ignorant and uninformed. We know that most bikers are active, freedom loving, intelligent, educated citizens who are involved in the betterment of this great country. However, some of us get a little lazy from time to time. I am not immune to apathy either. I have to constantly remind myself that the freedoms that we have today, which were paid for by the blood of thousands of great Americans, are worth fighting for. We all have to work a little to research candidates so we can make an intelligent decision about who we will vote for in November.
If you joined the Republican Party because your parents were Republicans, then you joined for the wrong reasons. If you plan to vote for Kerry because Michael Moore made a Hollywood movie that slammed Bush, then you have no mind of your own and don't deserve the privilege to vote! If you are a man, and vote for other male candidates instead of researching the female candidates, then you are setting this country back 90 years. If you are Caucasian and you choose the candidate's name that sounds "white" and don't choose the name that sounds "black", then you are insulting the spirit of this country. The point I am trying to make here is that while most of us don't like to admit it, we vote for candidates based on biases and prejudices. That is not the American way and voting that way will not help our country.
The web site for the State Board of Elections in every state has a list of the candidates who are running in November. Please print that list out NOW. Leave it on your desk until November 2nd and start researching where the candidates stand now. If you do not know the qualifications of the district judges that you will be asked to vote for, contact a lawyer friend and ask them for their opinion of the current candidates on the ballot.
If you didn't watch BOTH the Democratic National Convention AND the Republican National Convention, then you missed a great opportunity to see what issues were important to both Presidential candidates. I am a member of one of the two big parties. However, watching the convention of the other party was just as informative to me as watching the convention of the party that I belong to. I know spending many hours watching TV is difficult. However, we all spend time watching The Apprentice and other reality TV shows. We get nothing but entertainment from those shows. Watching conventions and news organizations at least gives us the information to process on our own. Processing the huge amount of information from the media is also very important. I can't tell you how many times I hear people regurgitate bullshit that they heard from some Hollywood movie star or bias news organization. Don't let other people make decisions for you. Take everything you hear from the media with a grain of salt. Much of it is bias, exaggerated, or flat out bullshit.
We all know that candidates promise the world while campaigning. Donít trust what they promise. Learn to access the web and find out how a candidate has voted while he/she has been in office. How they have voted in the past on issues is probably how they will vote in the future on similar issues.
I hear people say that they will vote for Bush because he is against gay marriage. I hear people saying they will vote for Kerry because he is pro-choice on abortion. These issues are important to all of us. However, please prioritize all the issues. Then decide what is most important to you. To me, national security is number one. All other social issues are secondary to me. Don't take my opinion. Make your own list and vote accordingly. If you are pissed off about Bush enacting the Patriot Act, add that to your list, but then decide whether it is as important to you as the physical security of your children. I do not agree with all the positions of the presidential candidate that I will vote for. However, I will vote and I will make the choice the best that I can as that is what voting is all about. The analysis of your number one and number two highest priority issues should decide who you will vote for.
If you are a biker, you should already be a member of your state Motorcyclists' Rights Organization (SMRO) and member of a federal level MRO like the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). (www.MRF.org) If you don't know where your state level candidates stand on biker related issues, either ask them directly, or contact the Legislative Officer of your state level MRO (CBA/ABATE). They can help you.
If you strongly support one particular candidate, a great way of showing your support is by volunteering to work on their campaign. You can make phone calls, set out campaign signs, or work a precinct on Election Day. There is nothing more rewarding than feeling like you did all you could do to help an honest, capable person get elected to public office.
The penalty for not researching candidates is the election of dishonest, unfair legislators with extreme, harmful views. Some state level candidates may vote to eliminate funding for motorcycle safety or enact totalitarian attitudes towards biker freedoms.
Please strengthen this great country by making the effort to learn where candidates stand on issues. Prioritize those issues, and vote with some knowledge of the candidates. The right to this process was given to you by the blood and tears of hundreds of thousands of heroic Americans and their grieving families. ........... God bless our brave soldiers!
Join CBA/ABATE and the MRF TODAY!