“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard my dad use that phrase. As I grew up, I received the message loud and clear. Voting was my personal responsibility and a valuable piece of my American heritage.
As a teenager, I served as a page at the Indiana Legislature, and the experience further ingrained in me the value that I could bring to the political process. Representatives elected by fellow Hoosiers made decisions on our behalf, and as a page, I felt like I had my own small part in making history.
Over the years, serving as operations manager and now chief executive officer at UDWI REMC, the real value of taking an active role in the political process has become even clearer to me.
Or maybe I should say the real “Cost of not taking an active role in the political process.”
After observing the sweeping effects of legislation on every level, from national organizations to each and every one of our individual members, I’ve learned firsthand the price of not taking an active role. Costs rise. Families are forced to tighten their belts. Communities and businesses struggle.
Energy is an issue that affects all of us and is a key topic of discussion this election season. The winning candidate will ultimately have a major role in developing policies that determine how safe, affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible America’s energy production is for years to come.
Before heading to the polls this fall, carefully review the energy proposals of each candidate. Consider which plans will ensure continued access to affordable electricity for you and your family. Affordable energy includes a broad portfolio of innovative and diverse sources of power, from coal to solar, gas, geothermal and hydropower. Ask your candidates about their commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy that includes renewable resources.
Rural American faces unique economic challenges, which stunt the growth of our rural economies. The 2016 election gives us the opportunity to make these economic development issues a priority when we head to the polls.
The future of rural economies depends on their ability to keep up with today’s global economy. With the right state and federal policies, Broadband technology can become available to all rural Americans, allowing rural families and businesses to communicate in new and faster ways. This will mean more competitive businesses, better education systems and more efficient health care delivery.
Over the last decade, cybersecurity has gone from a far-away threat to a daily occurrence in America. Today, it is a top issue for rural Americans and those who provide power to their homes. Each year, thousands of hackers test our cyber defenses, as they seek out personal information like social security and bank account numbers. Some of these hackers even look to disrupt the power grid.
As rural electric consumers, it is critical we ensure our state and national leaders understand this issue and work to strengthen our defenses. A strong cybersecurity policy will not only protect our personal information, but will also help us keep the lights on.
2016 is a pivotal election year where so much hangs in the balance. The price of not voting is too great for our families, businesses and communities to pay, especially in our rural areas. Your county, state, and country need your support. Grab your bullhorn, step to the stage, and make your voice heard.
Brian Sparks is the CEO of Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC.