It’s our job as leaders to support the things that matter to us.
It just so happens that what matters to us is front-page news every day of the week. Healthcare, drug pricing, surprise medical billing, opioids, flood, cyber security, automation, terrorism, trade, cannabis. These are issues that fill our nation’s airwaves and affect your business, your clients and your lives. That’s why, despite being 365 days away from the next presidential election, it’s not a minute too soon to be talking about raising our expectations of our national leaders, our country and ourselves. We can do that in one simple way: by donating a morning for America.
We work hard to raise money for our political action committee so that we can represent you in the debate about all of these issues, which in some way, shape or form will affect the future of our industry. In the same way, getting out to vote also allows us to participate—on a personal level—in the future of our industry and of our country. Our right to go to the polls needs to be taken more seriously.
Voting is one of the most fundamental and important civic opportunities we have as Americans. So why is it that of 224.1 million people (the size of the nation’s citizen voting-age population in 2016) only 137.5 million people voted in the last presidential election? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain—simple as that.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the most common reason given by the 18.9 million registered non-voters for not voting in 2016 was dislike of the candidates or campaign issues (4.7 million registered non-voters), followed by not being interested in the election (2.9 million), being too busy or having a conflicting schedule (2.7 million), and having an illness or disability (2.2 million). There are people crawling across deserts and swimming across rivers to get here, and we are either “not interested” or “too busy”? Really?
As leaders, I believe it is our responsibility to help our employees, neighbors, friends and family vote. Organize rides, encourage absentee ballots and early voting, pay for their postage! In the 2018 midterm election, 40% of voters used an alternative voting method. Not surprisingly, in the 11 states where early voting is not available and an excuse is required to request an absentee ballot, some of the lowest alternative voting rates in the country were recorded, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. If you live in one of those states, consider allowing your employees extra time on Election Day so they’re not stressed about being late for work.
There are literally millions of Americans among us who feel that their vote does not make a difference. The problem with voter apathy, though, is that it creates even more of a divide.
America feels fractured, and we need to do something to counterbalance that confusion and fear with hope and stability. At last month’s Insurance Leadership Forum, there were calls for all of us to be better listeners and to broaden our perspectives for people who don’t share our views.
Don’t get me wrong—people have to be smart enough and responsible enough to know the difference between fact-based information and “disinformation campaigns” like politically charged commercials or threatening Facebook posts. But as leaders, we should aim to foster a collegial environment for conversation and discussion by encouraging and inspiring others to support what’s important to them.
When people are inspired, the numbers don’t lie. The November 2018 midterms saw an 11 percentage point increase in voter turnout from the 2014 midterms, according to Census Bureau figures. Voter turnout went up among all voting age and major racial and ethnic groups. At the same time, a record number of women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. I would argue that wasn’t just coincidence.
We can’t create change unless we participate—and that means being informed at all levels of government. So here we are—one year away from the chance to stand and be heard. One year away from doing our small part for a democracy that gives us so much for so little in return.
Next November will be here before you know it, and believe me—our issues aren’t going anywhere. Donating a morning for our country is the least we can do.