We don’t think that it’s a particularly controversial take that elections have consequences, for better or for worse. And while it’s easy to get wrapped up in the national elections, the consequences with doing so are usually for the worse. This isn’t necessarily because we can’t elect productive national leaders, rather the national races suck up the oxygen in the room that leaves our exponentially more significant local races starving for much-needed attention.
We’ve said it many times before and we’ll repeat it one last time before Election Day: your local elected officials are the ones who actually make a difference in your life. And chances are, their productivity is for the better, not because we see them everywhere and they’re generally nice people, but because they live in the communities they serve. It would make sense for them to be good stewards not only for their neighbors, but for themselves.
This is why we take such an intense interest in local elections and have spent every week since August handicapping the election and interviewing candidates. We understand and stress the importance of local elections, but we’ve spared no expense in bringing that coverage to you every week.
However, since we can’t stress enough that elections have consequences, we also can’t stress enough how misplaced the perennial complaining can be after the elections.
Some people often spend too much time idealizing the perfect candidate that they let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The other saying goes “politicians – or elected officials – are people too.” Some often let that obstruct their abilities to make decisions based mostly on policy and results. With that, we like to bring another saying into the mix: “A vote is not a valentine.”
Regardless of who wins your local elections, there is one inevitable result: someone, somewhere will be unhappy. Life isn’t always about winning, and we don’t necessarily subscribe to the “fire and brimstone” arguments if “the other team” wins, but we take the position that life does go on, and the beauty of local politics is that disagreements on big-ticket items usually transcend party lines on a regular basis. There are some more divisive issues on which certain lines do need to be held, but overall, we believe many local issues are simply not that bleak.
To put it shortly, will live after Election Day.
However, we’re not entirely sure that reserves us the right to complain about every single aspect of government.
Sometimes your did your part. You got involved, you volunteered, you hit the polls on Election Day, you awaited the results earnestly, and your team still came up short. At that point, have at it and complain away.
But we’re not ready to extend that same invitation to those who don’t get involved. We often hear many platitudes about how ubiquitous the opinions of others are. Sure, everyone has opinions, and anyone can have an opinion on any topic, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a valid one. Being completely out of the loop on local issues and deciding to cast a ballot anyway is a dereliction of civic duty and misuse of the electoral process.
We’re not insinuating that everyone who casts an ignorant ballot is doing so purposefully, rather, their opinion simply does not match those of the people who have been involved, paid attention, and did their homework, regardless of their side of the aisle.
At this point, people have no excuse to be ignorant in today’s world, but somehow some people are. Limitless information in the palms of our hands, constant mainstream media coverage, and your favorite local newspaper – preferably ours – delivered directly to your doorstep, it almost seems counterintuitive how our world became more out of touch and less informed.
Succinctly, there’s no reason the world can’t do its own homework, research the candidates, or even take a field trip to their local Legislator’s or Town Councilmember’s office to ask them questions on the issues or even air grievances. It’s a busy, two-jobs-required world, but people keeping themselves informed on the issues should remain one of their top priorities. Not only can a more informed decision be made on Election Day, but opinions go much farther than just simply having one for the sake of itself.
In that vein, we know that this election will have consequences, and we certainly hope – and think – that they will be good consequences. In addition to the skyrocketing cost of living, desperately-needed wastewater solutions and downtown revitalizations, and conscientious development, the county must also address the urbanization of Long Island and its poor handling of cyber security. The next slate of elected officials must face problems that will affect our county and our island in the long run and creative solutions are more than likely to be required.
This is why we stress voter participation and why we specifically do not endorse armchair political opinions and voter apathy, especially when it comes to complaining about our local government and the officials who are elected to represent us. Again, people are more than welcome to have an opinion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it should be taken seriously if they’re not willing to put in the work to attain it.
So, if things don’t go your way Tuesday, observe your own involvement in this cycle, and get more involved next time. It might not necessarily mean you help carry a significant campaign over the finish line, but you might be just one of many who cast a more informed vote. This doesn’t mean that informed voting will make partisan lines fade, but it does definitely bring us closer to the center on most issues. And again, since our local elections are much more important than the national ones, the local issues easily take center stage.
In order to figure out where you should vote, check to see if you’re registered to vote in New York State by going to https://voterlookup. elections.ny.gov/
By entering your county – if you’re not from Suffolk County, we thank you for your patronage! – last and first name, date of birth, and ZIP code, not only will the website inform you of your exact polling location, but also your election district, your County Legislative district, your State Senate and Assembly districts, your Congressional district, your Town, and ward, if applicable.
Additionally, the results will display your upcoming ballot and any applicable ballot propositions – there are two this year.
Finally, we know that voting is a routinely simple process that is your constitutionally protected right. Most states have paid-time-off (PTO) laws regarding voting and New York State has many – in our opinion, superfluous – provisions for early and absentee voting. To put it shortly, there is no excuse to skip Election Day.
Hit the polls, take a victory or a loss in stride, and remember to complain after the election only if you know enough to complain about things right now.