By Katherine Hetherington Cunfer, Director of Government and Community Relations
2020 has been, well, a lot. We have all changed how we function in giant parts of our everyday life and some parts may never truly go back to normal. 2020 also brings a chance for choices. Such is the beauty of our representative democracy.
What is a Representative Democracy?
(Pushes back professor glasses.) A representative democracy, also known as an indirect democracy or representative government, is a type of democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy where the citizens vote on every single policy issue. In short, “We the People” elect our leaders to represent us. Stands to reason we should make sure to elect people who will actually represent us, our positions, our concerns and our values.
There will be a quiz (and you really should study)
To start, register to vote. Go to votespa.com. Thank you Pa Legislature for the recent election changes that made it easier to not only register but to also request a mail-in ballot!
Now don’t stress. This is an opinion quiz, but it does have real consequences. You can also choose to not participate in this quiz. I’d suggest against the choice of not participating because mega elections and even entire state legislative majorities as close as Virginia in 2017 have been decided by one vote. Your vote could literally be the difference that shapes two, four or six years of policy and when some pundit talks about that election that came down to one vote, you have my permission to claim it was yours (Wink!).
For this quiz, the studying part can actually be quite easy. On this year’s general election ballot, you’ll be asked to select your preference for Presidential and Vice Presidential combined ticket, your member of Congress, your Pa state House membe, and if you live in an odd numbered district your Pa state Senator. If you want to see what your ballot will look like use the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s (GRCA) Business Advocacy Action Center. Click on the “Learn About Candidates” tab and type in your address when prompted. Tada! It’s that easy!
Who to Choose
In 2020, pretty much every candidate has a website, even if it is just a Facebook page. You have a range of options to pick your candidate, including but not limited to their party affiliation. You can also rely on organizations like GRCA to do some of homework for you.
In this election cycle, GRCA has engaged with each of the candidates on the ballot (outside of the Presidency because we don’t have that kind of pull, yet). GRCA compiled a set of 10 questions focused on business issues at state and federal levels and posed them to the candidates officially on the ballot. Most the candidates from both parties have chosen to participate in this process and their answers will be located under the “Learn About Candidates” tab by individual candidate. It will also be indicated if a candidate chose to not participate.
GRCA does not currently endorse candidates, but the questions posed are focused on key current business issues and the answers, or lack thereof, which can help you make decisions on how you use your power to choose. GRCA will also be including candidate endorsement or level of support from other organizations such as the U.S. Chamber, the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, the National Association of Manufacturers, the PA Manufacturers Association, Farm Bureau, National Federation of Independent Businesses and other similarly aligned organizations that rank incumbents based on voter record and assess candidates in similar fashions to GRCA. Our goal is to give YOU the tools to make an informed decision!
Exercise your right and GO VOTE!