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Just Vote

Fri, Nov 2nd, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

By Eric Leitzen

Well, that title should prove frightening enough to fill the qualifications for Halloween. By now you’re probably expecting me to launch into some sort of rant and rave about this candidate or that policy or who’s a socialist or who’s a traitor and other such hyper-partisan hogwash that has poleaxed this country in regards to pulling out of this current depression. I’ll go right ahead and say that both sides are blamable, both sides have problems, and it’s only by working together that we will see lasting change and improvement.

There, now that that is out of the way, I only want to say this: Just Vote.

And no, that’s not a Lady Gaga reference.

Every time an election comes around, whether it’s for local dog catcher or President of these United States, I am flabbergasted by the amount of people who simply don’t vote. Whether it’s apathy, or frustration, or some sort of misguided political statement, the only answer is that you are forfeiting one of the most wonderful rights this democracy has given us since day one.

In a former life, I wanted to be a History teacher. Allow me, then, to take you on a short journey back to the tail end of the 18th century, when a bunch of farmers and tinsmiths decided they didn’t like the way they were being treated by a colonial master, so they did something about it. The amazing thing is: they won. Democracy found a new birth in the world, its first appearance since the centuries before Christ. I know we take it all for granted, having had generation after generation living in America, but I cannot stress enough how radical and earth-shaking it was for a country to shake off the colonial yoke and try to govern itself without a king, without an emperor and, in fact, in direct opposition to such rules. Needless to say, shockwaves were felt all over Europe.

What followed was nothing less than an Arab Spring in the era of breeches and hose: France rebelled, Haiti rebelled, Ireland rebelled (again), even China had a tax-based uprising of its own against the Qing Dynasty. It would be arrogant to assume that America was the first country ever to rebel against oppressors, but it is indisputable historical fact that we were the first to succeed against our colonial overlords and that our example paved the way for what is now free and democratic societies the world over.

In July of 1917, American troops came ashore in France, stopping at the tomb of the Marquis de Lafayette, one of the biggest supporters of the American Revolution. Their task was to deliver a simple message: “Lafayette, We Are Here.” Over the next two years, 117,465 Americans would die defending Democracy against the Kaiser in the First World War. Now, nearly one hundred years later, please do them the courtesy of exercising your right and privilege, and cast a vote. Don’t let someone tell you who to vote for, don’t vote with your heart or your gut or your eyes or ears or even your gall bladder. Vote with your mind: look at the issues, suss it all out for you and for nobody else, and cast your vote.

I’m not saying you have to vote for someone or something. Take a look at Jill Stein, or Virgil Goode, or any other of the third party candidates. Heck, you can write something in if you want: a vote for “Twilight Sparkle” is still a vote. A vote is never wasted: at its most important, it can shape the world, and at its least, it can stand for something. No, your vote may not be seen as “important” by the talking heads and the pundits and the cynics, but since when did we give credence to their stale words? Your vote should mean something to you, whether it stands in support, defiance, or abject discombobulation. If you want me to tell you who to vote for, or why, we can meet somewhere and have a coffee; but I’m not a political commentator, so it won’t be here. All I will say in my little corner of the world is that you should vote, and I wish you would, no matter who it is for. So many have fought and died for your right to vote, and so many live crushed under bootheels wishing that they could do so. Surely it’s worth a little bit of your time to speak out, even if it’s only for your own peace of mind. In times like these, peace of mind is the best reason to do anything.

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