There’s a well-known children’s book, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”. Parents and grandparents who have had the pleasure of reading this story hundreds of times know very well that the simple act of giving a mouse a cookie creates a headache for the giver, as the mouse in the story isn’t the most self-reliant of creatures. Tuesday was Election Day, and I always think of cookies on this day.
We’re lifelong eastern Jackson County residents, with the exception of a decade long defection to the Northland. We don’t miss much about our old town, but one thing I do miss are the cookies at my last polling place.
After casting your ballot, there was a glorious table of homemade goodies at the church where we voted. Even if the ballot was boring, you were assured a chewy chocolate chip or a crisp oatmeal butterscotch cookie to reward you after completing your civic duty. If I thought the eligible voters in our town could be lulled away from the warm glow of their phones to vote with just the promise of a cookie, I’d give Mrs. Fields a run for her money.
We’ve made a point as a paper to not engage in editorials, instead focusing on providing local news coverage and opening up our Community Voices section for anyone interested to share their opinions.
After working on an article on election results, where just 23% of registered Grain Valley voters bothered to vote in the most recent municipal election, I’ve found one issue I am not concerned about editorializing. While our municipality is sadly not unusual, voter turnout in our community is absolutely embarrassing. We can’t blame COVID-19 for the lack of voter turnout either. Voter turnout was just as humiliating well before face masks and Purell became a part of the procedure.
We’re quick to put out the flag on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, blow up the neighborhood to celebrate our freedoms on the 4th of July, and proudly proclaim our support of the troops whenever conflicts arise. You may think you are honoring those who have come before us and those who serve our country now by flying the flag on your front porch or sharing “thanks for your service” messages on social media. But these are hollow sentiments. We desecrate their sacrifices through our brazen disregard for the simple but significant right we have as citizens to vote.
We have a newly minted voter in our household, and I can tell you that I felt the same lump in my throat watching her cast her first ballot as I did when she took her first steps. Not just because my baby is one milestone closer to flying from the nest, but knowing that just one hundred years prior, suffragists had seen to it that the 19th Amendment ensured she had that right.
For the past few elections, we have shared the following quote from Thomas Jefferson on our social media pages: “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
It is an unfortunate reality that the typical citizen has little power compared to the powerful, well-funded corporate interests and political action committees that have the ear of our leaders. As much as I want to believe that our elected leaders consider our needs and desires, I guess I’ve been around long enough to know better. One of the only ways you have to speak to them directly is through the ballot box. They know the majority of us do not vote, and they act accordingly. Imagine how differently those in elected office might act if the majority of the populace paid attention and voted regularly.
So, another election has passed. Winners have been named and issues have been passed or defeated. We’ll enter that much too short period of time when we can watch TV, listen to the radio, and log on to social media without the endless drone of political ads and nasty discourse. While I want to feel relief for that and go about our business of reporting our community’s news, I feel nothing but shame and embarrassment to be a part of such a dismal electorate. And no promise of a cookie can take that bitter taste out of my mouth.