Harbeer Sandhu
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Open Call For Election-Related Submissions

Open Call For Election-Related Submissions
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If voting changed anything, they would make it illegal.
- some bumper sticker on a bicycle

It’s that time of year again. The summer heat is finally breaking as long-dormant vampires and forked-tongue zombies take to the airwaves to broadcast their special-interest-funded attack ads spouting duplicitous sound bites out of both sides of their mouths. Election season is scary.

I am of the opinion that there is little, substantial difference between Republicans and Democrats — on foreign policy, on trade policy, on business, labor, the economy (who gets bailouts and stimulus funds), lobbying, the environment, energy policy, etc etc etc — both major parties limit our national dialog to a very narrow set of possibilities. They differ, at very surface levels, on some lifestyle issues such as gay marriage and reproductive rights, but really those are just distractions to keep us little folks fighting amongst each other while they dole handouts to the wealthy corporate interests who can afford to pay for their “elections.”

Democracy does not start and end at the ballot box, though. It’s not a ritual we participate in just once a year. Democracy requires engaged citizens in action every day of every year.

“Democracy” means much more than just voting once a year. Democracy also means talking to your neighbors about things that affect us all, testifying at City Council meetings and FCC hearings, volunteering when you can, writing comments on newspaper articles and letters to the editor. Participating in boycotts, rallies, civil disobedience — these are all things that are sometimes required of citizens in a democracy. This newspaper and others like it — the Fourth Estate — are a crucial party of a healthy democracy.

But I am not going to tell you not to vote. Actually, in all probability, with the popularity of early voting, chances are that if you are going to vote, you probably already pulled that lever.  And while I believe that the big national elections are already decided and any candidate who has risen to the national level has already been bought and paid for, I do believe that local elections count. At the local level, you really can make a difference.

So, in the spirit of free and open speech, for the next week, through the election, Free Press Houston is providing you this commons, a virtual soapbox with a megaphone, to say anything and everything you want to say about the upcoming election. You want to make a case for a particular candidate or ballot measure — support her or endorse her — fine.  You want to sling mud and rant and speak up against a particular candidate or ballot measure — that’s cool, too. You want poo poo the whole idea of voting and call it out as a sham and a distraction — please, be our guest.

I may not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

The only two catches are that we will not publish articles which advocate violence against any person(s) and they must be readable (but not grammatically “perfect,” don’t psyche yourselves out) without much editing.

So it’s the countdown to the election, Houston. You got something to say? Send your thoughts/rants/editorials/endorsements to harbeer@freepresshouston.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Don’t believe the hype, but also don’t forget to vote.