Tuesday is preliminary election day in New Bedford and while turnout is generally miserable for these things, I am hoping that the current level of political discourse and dissatisfaction in our nation will remind folks of just how important it is to get out and vote.

New Bedfordites have a love/hate relationship with politics. We complain endlessly about our politicians and then don't vote. Or we re-elect the same people to office time and time again. You can't have change without making a change. When we fail to participate or to bring about the change, we send a signal that we are satisfied with the status quo.

You can "like" your elected officials but still be dissatisfied with their policies or the direction the city is headed in. Perhaps you just feel a change in course is needed. Change is good as no one person has all of the good ideas.

Many people skip the preliminary election and vote only in the final election in November. The preliminary is every bit as important as the general election in that preliminary voters select the candidates for the November ballot. You can't complain about your choices in the general election if you fail to participate in the preliminary.

The most important thing is to vote. There will be winners, there will be losers and hopefully, there will be some new faces. Voting has fallen out of vogue with many people. Some believe that their vote doesn't matter. I believe they are simply being lazy or are satisfied to leave their duty to someone else to perform.

Voting is not only a right but it is a responsibility. It's one of the few things we as Americans are asked to do to keep our nation strong. You certainly have a right to sit it out – but why would you want to?

Make time and vote on Tuesday.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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