It’s archery season, which means a lot of people in West Virginia are sitting in tree stands waiting for deer to happen by.
It’s also election season.
If deer were smarter they would send flyers to your mailbox as deer season approaches telling you why you should pick the other deer over them. They could say things like, “That buck is a bully and pushes all the other deer around.” They could send snapshots of their rival bucks with huge antlers saying, “Wait for him, he’s a trophy!” Or maybe, “This deer supports invasive species!” The deer could log onto Facebook analytics, read your posts, look at your photos, figure out where and why you hunt, and send you the schedule and whereabouts of their rivals. But, for good or bad, bucks don’t Facebook. They just amble around the forest looking for acorns and does.
Politicians do Facebook. Don’t be naive. Right now the politicians minions are reading your social media posts, seeing what sites you visit, and determining the best ads to send to you to get you to vote for them. You can turn on all the privacy measures you want, but they are following you. You know as well as I do that if you post that you’d like a turkey sandwich, you’ll get ads for cold cuts and bread within minutes.
When you sit in a tree stand you are trapped. You have to sit there in the cold, or the rain, or the heat, waiting for a deer to come by. You can’t make the deer happen along. Sure, you can hang a game camera in the woods and get a good idea of the deer traffic. You could spread a little corn to entice the deer. But you can’t make the deer show up or do what you want. The deer don’t care about you, or what you want. They simply want to eat and procreate.
Politicians mostly just want to eat and procreate, too. The difference is, you can determine which politicians get to wander around the forest. You can vote. You have the power to say which politicians are in the forest, and you can make them do what you want.
Deer are deer. They slip around the woods hoping predators don’t notice them. Deer are just above fish and squirrels on the food chain. Politicians want to be predators. They don’t care if you see them coming because they want you to believe that they are Great White sharks or Grizzly bears. They want you to think they have power. But the only power politicians have is the power YOU give them. Without your vote, politicians are minnows and worms. Well, even with your vote they are minnows and worms, they are just elected minnows and worms who get to make up laws. Politicians want to be at the top of the food chain, but politicians without a vote aren’t anything... except maybe news channel special analyst.
Politicians are people who want power but can’t have power if you don’t give them power. Despite what they want you to believe, politicians aren’t at the top of the food chain. You are. You alone are the most volatile, dangerous beast in the forest. With your vote you aren’t a guy or gal in a tree stand with a bow and arrow. You are a tank on the high ground. As my colleague Dan Heyman illustrates in his article there are House and Senate races in West Virginia that come down to fewer than 100 votes. Ninety six votes decided one race. 96. Now, if you could find 96 people to vote to get a trophy deer to walk within 30 yards of your tree stand, you’d be out there getting your friends and neighbors to the polls to vote for that deer. You probably have 96 people who attend your church on Sunday. Or 96 parents that serve on the PTA or PTO at your kid’s school.
Your vote matters. You and your vote are a polar bear, or a lioness governing a pride, or the top gorilla, or however you want to view it. Voter turnout in West Virginia is often less than 50%. If you believe something, if you think a certain candidate believes what you believe, if you want to change the world, or just your town, go vote.
Politicians and Super PACS don’t want you to believe it, but you are in charge. And if only half the voters in the state go to the polls, then it really doesn’t take many votes at all to carry a candidate.
If you have the power to vote but you don’t vote then you are giving away your power.
So climb out of your tree stand and go vote. If nothing else, it’ll be warm in your polling place. Besides, you were probably napping anyway.