So, what does it all mean, now that the last ballots have been tallied in Baltimore’s primary and we have a chance to savor a bit of post-election spring before the runup to the November elections?

First, the numbers show that a whole lot of people don’t mind that a relatively few of us make the decisions about who the mayor will be (Brandon Scott for a second term), who the City Council president will be (Zeke Cohen) and who other members of the City Council and of the U.S. Congress will be. Yes, there’s a general election in November, but because registered Democrats so outnumber registered Republicans, the November outcome is pretty much set. The exception is the U.S. Senate — about which I’ll have more to say later.

Thank you for trusting the choices of people like me who do vote. I would never be so deferential. Even if all my candidates didn’t win, I’m satisfied that I had my say when it mattered.

We know that some incumbents who lost — Nick Mosby in the City Council president race, along with council members Eric Costello and Robert Stokes — were, in effect, told, “Thanks, but we want to move forward with somebody else.” Voters also told some big spenders that money can’t always buy love or elections. David Trone, who spent more than $60 million of his own money in a bid for the U.S. Senate seat from which Ben Cardin is retiring after three terms, lost to the vastly outspent Angela Alsobrooks, the county executive for Prince George’s County.

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Among other moneybags participants were David D. Smith, the media magnate and Trump supporter, and John Luetkemeyer Jr., the real estate developer, who together contributed $600,000 to a super PAC to support Sheila Dixon’s unsuccessful mayoral bid. This was her third attempt to return to the office from which she was forced to resign in 2010 because of financial shenanigans.

We know that the outcome of the primaries — the elections held so that voters can decide who will run as the Democrat and the Republican candidate in the fall — settled most of the local offices. But this is what we also know: About 70% of registered Democrats in Baltimore just sat out the primaries. And that leads to concern about whether they might do the same in November when the presidential race will lead the ballot, followed by the Senate race. That Maryland Senate seat, by the way, carries greater weight this time around: Whoever wins it could be our bulwark against a right-wing agenda focused on curtailing rights or an agent for it becoming the blueprint for our future.

The outcome of the primaries set the stage for a duel between Alsobrooks, the Democratic candidate in a state where Democrats have an advantage, and Larry Hogan, the Republican who served two terms as governor and whose claim to fame is his track record of winning support from a sizable number of Democrats. Trone has pledged his support for Alsobrooks. As Hogan himself has said, “This election is going to be one for the history books.”

It’s also one that on the national level could be as much of a squeaker as, say, the race for the 11th City Council District seat in Baltimore. There, the influential incumbent, Costello, lost to a relative newcomer, Zac Blanchard, by 48 votes. That’s right. Forty-eight votes. The nonvoting 60%-70% in the district could have made a difference, but 6,886 voters had their say. Many political polls indicate that President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are in a virtual tie nationally. As in Baltimore, every vote really does matter.

So this is where the thousands of you who did not vote in the May primaries come into the picture. It’s time to begin thinking about what is at stake at the top of the ballot. Don’t brush it off as the same old, same old, back-and-forth name-calling and deal-making that has nothing to do with you. It’s not merely a tussle between two old men, neither one of whom floats your boat. These two men have starkly different views about how this country should be run and who should have a say. One of them is a convicted felon promising to be a dictator — at least for a day — with a plan to expand presidential powers and to use the military and the Justice Department to settle scores with political enemies.

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View this then as you would the epic contests that so many of us follow in the Marvel Universe, in Harry Potter’s world, in professional sports or even in the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Dubai, etc.Think of the serious discourse that takes place when it comes to these clashes. We get up in each other’s faces to debate the fine points and go all-in even more on social media. Imagine that same energy laser-focused on this political space.

It’s OK to approach this as you might a new exercise regimen: in increments. Add some of the voter guides to your summer reading list, starting with those from The Banner and from the League of Women Voters. Watch or listen to public affairs programs that will expose you to issues and candidates. See what’s out there on YouTube and TikTok. And definitely get to know the playbook called Project 2025. If horror is your genre, this will keep you awake more than anything that has sprung from the imaginations of Stephen King or Jordan Peele.

It springs from the Heritage Foundation and a coalition of 100 or so other conservative organizations that have signed on. The opening words on its website give you the flavor: “It is not enough for conservatives to win elections. If we are going to rescue the country from the grip of the radical Left, we need both a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on Day One of the next conservative Administration.”

Ms. Magazine warns that this is “a detailed plan for the next Republican president to use the executive branch of the federal government to attack the rights of women, LGBTQ people and the BIPOC community, by eliminating the agencies and offices responsible for enforcing civil rights laws and placing trained right-wing ideologues in staff positions throughout the federal government.”

The Nation magazine focuses on Project 2025′s priority of “deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity (‘SOGI’), diversity, equity and inclusion (‘DEI’), gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights … out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation and piece of legislation that exists.”

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As I said, this gives me the heebie-jeebies and makes me that much more committed to persuading fence sitters to join me in having our say through the ballot box. What about you?

E.R. Shipp is a veteran journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. She is also an associate professor at Morgan State University.