Well, it looks like another season has come and gone.
As of today, summer 2012 is officially over, and autumn 2012 has begun. The third full season of the year will last almost ninety days, encompassing part or all of four months: September, October, November, and December. Winter will officially begin four days before Christmas this year (December 21st).
The beginning of autumn always coincides with the southward equinox. During an equinox, the center of the sun is in the same plane as the equator, because the tilt of the Earth’s axis favors neither the northern or southern hemispheres. There are about as many minutes of daylight as there are minutes of night. Following an equinox, the balance shifts, and the days get shorter and shorter, culminating in the shortest day of the year on the winter solstice.
This promises to be a momentous season. Almost exactly at its halfway point, we will conclude the fifty-seventh presidential election in American history.
Either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will then begin preparing to govern the country for the next four years. In Washington, the entire state House of Representatives is standing for election, along with half the state Senate and all of the state’s executive department officers (including governor).
A dozen ballot measures are awaiting voters’ approval or disapproval, and several judicial positions must be filled. (Many judicial races were decided in the winnowing election, so there won’t be many contested positions on the November ballot).
In some places, there are also local races, like in Island County, where two of the three county commissioners are facing the voters. Unusually for an even-numbered year, King County has a sheriff’s race.
There is a great deal at stake in this election. That statement may sound like a cliche, because every election is billed as important nowadays, but it’s true. Participation matters; democracy is not a spectator sport, as the saying goes. In fact, it’s not a sport at all. It is realer than sports.
The consequences of elections affect our lives. There isn’t a good excuse for not paying attention, for not participating.
So do some research. Vote. Make your voice heard. Make that ballot count this autumn. And remember to turn off the television set, step outside, and enjoy the season… rain or shine. Autumn is about so much more than attack ads on the airwaves and in mailboxes. To appreciate it, you have to flex your muscles.