Nancy Giles to voters: Don't flunk the midterms

To vote or not to vote? That is the question some Americans have been asking themselves ahead of Tuesday's election. Our contributor Nancy Giles knows her answer:

As soon as I was old enough, I was poised and ready to cast my first vote, especially in a showy, sexy election -- like President (Carter vs. Reagan), and later, Mayor of New York City (Dinkins-Giuliani).

They were the top dogs, the movers-and-shakers, and in my mind, they were the ones that made things happen.

I'm embarrassed to admit that those other offices -- the Members of Congress, state legislature, local school boards -- none of those races grabbed my attention or interest.

But the dismal performance of the current Congress, the 113th Congress, really got my attention.

Between shutting down the government, voting countless times to repeal or change the Affordable Care Act after it became law, and being on track to be the least productive Congress in 20 years, I finally realized that those little local representatives I never paid attention to play a huge part in running the country.

The legendary Tip O'Neill, former Speaker of the House, said, "All politics is local." Yeah, I thought I got it.

But now, I get it.

Bills that became law on the state or local level often have national impact, from restrictive voter ID laws, to raising the minimum wage, to new gun laws.

And, not to be forgotten: gerrymandering, the drawing and re-drawing of local districts to help insure that a particular party gets a majority of votes -- and House seats. Those configurations directly impact the makeup of the House of Representatives, which has a direct impact on how (and if) our government runs.

Remember high school? Classes, surprise quizzes and (halfway through the year) midterms. If you flunked, you had a good chance of flunking the class.

Well, the midterm elections are just days away, and if you're 18 or older, if you don't vote in the midterm elections, if you don't participate and do your part to insure that our democracy is truly a representative one, I've got news for you:

That will be way worse than failing a class: you'll be failing yourself and your country.

So vote! Every election counts.

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"I Voted" stickers are seen on a table at a polling station in Harding Elementary School November 6, 2012 in Youngstown, Ohio.
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images


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