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Do Your Duty

By Tim Hayes

Finally, silence.

All of the hum-and-rattle, after all of the doomsday warnings of looming cataclysm, after all of the noise and misdirection carried into our living rooms and car radios by an unending onslaught of ridiculously logic-free commercials – it’s all over.  Finally.

It’s just you and your conscience, alone in front of a ballot.  It’s time to make a choice.  It’s time to do your duty.  It’s time to vote.

Personally, I love to go and vote.  Always have.  Never missed an election since I turned 18 – and that’s 40 years, gang.

But some people – actually way too many people – don’t care whether they vote or not.  That’s inconceivable to me.  I came across a story last week that cited 12 young people in their 20s, mostly, who gave every reason under the sun why they thought voting wasn’t worth their time.

They’re disillusioned.  The candidates aren’t perfectly aligned with their beliefs.  “I hate mailing stuff; it gives me anxiety.”  It’s too hard to print out an absentee ballot.  They just don’t have the time or the energy.

What?  What?!!  Get your face out of the smartphone and join the real world, you unbelievable nitwits, dimwits, and halfwits.  These would be the same people years from now, as they see their rights or their environment or their livelihood being taken from them, whining, “But why?  How did this happen?  Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

Comedian Billy Eichner fails to see the humor when it comes to disinterested voters, too, saying, “If you’re 18 or over and you have time to dress up for Halloween, you have time to vote.”  Elections matter.  And every vote matters.  How dare anyone waste his or hers.

Oprah Winfrey spoke to this issue last week, saying, “For all those who paved the way that we might have the right to vote – and for anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote – and you are choosing not to vote?  Wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family.  You are disrespecting and disregarding their legacy, their suffering, and their dreams when you don’t vote.”

The percentage of eligible citizens who actually turn out to vote during presidential election years has moved between 48 percent and 57 percent since 1980, with only about 40 percent voting in mid-term elections, according to BBC News and the non-profit group FairVote. In 2016, that translated into 117 million eligible voters sitting out the election.  And with only 200 million people out of the 241 million eligible voters having actually registered to vote, that put the 2016 turnout at slightly more than 51 percent.

For the world’s leading democracy, that’s positively shameful.  In France, voter turnout is regularly more than 80 percent, BBC News reported.

We can do better.  We should do better.  States where early voting is offered have seen results so far showing that we are doing better, and that’s most encouraging.

Ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft pledged to offer free and discounted rates to get people to their voting locations.  Energy remains high for this cycle, so get in there and contribute your part to the momentum.  No excuses this time.

Whether you see the current political scene as enthralling or appalling – vote anyway.

Your candidate may not be perfect, nor is his or her party – vote anyway.

It can be a challenge to make arrangements to get to your polling place – vote anyway.

You may think your single ballot won’t really make a difference – vote anyway.

Again, Oprah says it best.

“The right to vote is like the crown we all get to wear.  Maya (Angelou) used to say, ‘Baby, your crown has been paid for, so put it on your head and wear it.’”

This Tuesday, make the effort.  Make the difference for your local municipality, your state House and Senate districts, your Congressional district, your U.S. Senate representation, and your state gubernatorial leadership.

Wear that crown, indeed.  Step into that booth and enjoy the silence, finally.  Do your duty.  Vote.

Copyright 2018 Timothy P. Hayes