By James Jimenez and Brian Etheridge, MD, NMPolitics.net
Oct. 23, 2018
Democracy is “a system of government by the whole population.” By that definition, everyone’s participation is needed in order to keep a democracy alive and well.
There is no act of democracy more foundational than voting. Casting a vote is more than exercising your right as a citizen. It’s about accepting the responsibility of citizenship. It’s about affirming that you are a part of something larger than yourself.
In much the same way, elections are about more than sending new or returning leaders to our state and nation’s capitals to enact laws and budget money. Elections are also about what vision we share for the future, what projects we choose to build to improve our quality of life, what problems we decide to work together to solve.
Election issues are at the very heart of the values that matter most to us and our families – educating our children; improving our communities; and protecting our rights, safety and the world around us.
Sadly, these issues get lost in electioneering and partisanship. Which party a candidate represents often seems more important than what position he or she takes on a key topic. While the age of technology has given us access to more information than we’ve ever had, it also offers misinformation, discord and static. Voters who launch an internet search to educate themselves on the candidates may find far more than they bargained for.
Because voter education is vital for democracy to work, we at New Mexico Voices for Children and the New Mexico Pediatric Society teamed up to create a website where voters can find the candidates’ positions on a variety of issues. We sent questionnaires to all the candidates for the state gubernatorial race, U.S. Senate, New Mexico’s three U.S. House seats, and the state land commissioner. The questions ranged from issues like child health and well-being to the environment, immigration, education funding, the economy, the 2020 Census and more. We also asked candidates for a photo and a short biography.
All of the materials that were submitted to us are posted online at YouDecideNM.org on a website that is easy to navigate and use.
We hope you will take advantage of this voter education tool to help you become better informed about how the candidates stand on issues of importance to you.
Voting is a learned behavior and you’re more likely to vote if your parents voted. So, if you have children, talk to them about the issues that are important to you and take them when you go to the polls so they can have a real-life lesson on democracy in action. They can see firsthand how it strengthens the country as a whole when people actively participate in the function of democracy.
We both have a history of taking our children to the polls with us. And answering their sometimes surprisingly insightful questions has made us both more thoughtful and better educated voters.
James Jimenez is executive director of both New Mexico Voices for Children and the New Mexico Pediatric Society. Brian Etheridge, MD, FAAP, is president of the New Mexico Pediatric Society and a pediatrician practicing in Silver City. The YouDecideNM.org website is a joint project.