Eight Vote Win: What Iowa Teaches Us about the Importance of Voting

How many times have you heard, or even thought: “I’m not going to vote because...”

“I don’t have time.”

“My vote doesn’t count.”

“The candidates don’t reflect my views.”

In case anyone believes her vote doesn’t count, look at 2012 GOP Presidential nominee hopeful Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney beat the former Pennsylvania senator by eight votes in the Iowa caucus, the first major step towards naming the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama in November.

Eight Iowa caucus goers braved freezing wind chills to cast ballots in their communities at schools, churches, or homes.

Eight regular Americans beat back disillusionment in the GOP field as revealed by a Des Moines Register Iowa poll leading up to yesterday’s contest that showed 41% of voters were undecided just two days before the caucuses.

Does Santorum’s strong finish mean he’ll be named the nominee at the Republican convention this summer?  No.  But this "win" injects serious high octane fuel in the form of an ensuing flush of money for the Pennsylvania social conservative who managed to stay in the race despite his campaign having few staffers and cash on hand.  This is crucial because a bad showing largely contributed to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann calling it quits and forced Governor Rick Perry to retreat back to Texas to reflect on his next step as the Republican nominating contests push forward: New Hampshire is next week, followed by South Carolina and Florida, with dozens more in the following months.

There’s also this: Iowa voters aren’t representative of the country’s demographic changes confirmed by the 2010 U.S. Census which reveals the Latino population increased 43% since 2000, surging to 50.5 million--and growing, since it’s young.  That said, Iowa voters, who trend older and whiter, are also hardcore and reliable like millions throughout the country.  Simply put, they’ll show up.  Will younger voters and new U.S. citizens commit to vote in primaries and the general election, despite huge efforts currently underway to register people?

Which brings me back to the start of this essay.  Why should you vote and how much does your ballot matter?  I asked this on The Wise Latina Club’s Facebook page.  @Beta Lo answered in reference to Rick Santorum’s strong showing in Iowa:

“This gives me more of a reason to go out and VOTE!  My vote counts as well as the vote of those 8 people.  So to all of the Latinos and to those that want...to have his/her voice be heard...VOTE!”

I couldn’t have said it better.  Voting is not just a privilege.  It’s our responsibility and not just for the big political races like the 2012 Presidential election.  Those in your community for city or town council, school board, or the PTA count equally or more.

Be informed.  Register.  Most important, vote!