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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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