I am concerned, however, that we are losing our sense of duty to this country and the magnificent ideas it stands for. Think about it. We’re willing to send 18-year-old children off to foreign lands to kill or be killed, all in the name of what this country stands for. Yet the turnout in our elections — when we choose the leaders who will make decisions that affect all of our lives — is miserably low. In poll after poll, the overwhelming majority of us make it clear that we have a low opinion of politics and politicians. Yet what are we doing about it?
Most people have no idea who their state senator or state Assembly person is. Less than 10 percent of us show up to cast votes in primary elections. Far too few of us are willing to speak out and get involved — let alone run for office.
Politics is tough. Nothing seems to get done in Washington or Albany, but I would suggest that the main culprit is the failure of people to get involved and vote. Everyone is so busy with their lives — doing their jobs, paying their bills and taking care of their families — that few have the time or the inclination to contribute to the common good.
Don’t get me wrong. There are so many examples of good people who are involved in charitable, nonprofit and political activities, but most of those we can think of who devote themselves to this kind of work are, after all, individuals. Democracy only works when the public — meaning many, many more of us — is truly engaged.
On this anniversary, let’s give a gift to our country in honor of all those who have sacrificed so much. For our founders, for our veterans, for those who have died or sacrificed their health, for our grandparents and our parents and for our children, let’s all pledge to learn a little more, speak out when we feel strongly about something, fight for the common good and, most important, vote when the date arrives, no matter how high- or low-profile the election.
It may be asking too much these days to ask citizens to pledge their lives, their fortunes or their sacred honor, but just think about how much better we can be if we all do our part.
Tom Suozzi, an attorney with the law firm Harris Beach, was Nassau County executive from 2002 to 2009 and mayor of Glen Cove from 1994 to 2001. Comments about this column? TSuozzi@liherald.com.