Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

To Vote or Not

 
Over the years I have heard folks say they weren’t going to vote because of this or that reason, most of the time it had to do with their disappointment in the choices between the two parties. I’m sure each believes they have very good reasons not to vote. But please allow me to offer a few thoughts on this.

First, to vote for our representatives, whether local, state, of national, is a hard-fought right which has been given to us as a gift. Our Founding Fathers knew this was a unique concept in the world. Virtually every country in the 1780s was ruled by a monarch (King or Queen), a despot, a dictator, an emperor, or a tsar. Within each of these governmental structures existed a policy of iron fisted control over the masses. It may seem an oversimplification, but these rulers did not trust the people to rule themselves. In many ways this was a correct evaluation because part of the means of control was to keep the masses ignorant and uneducated.

The United States, on the other hand, became an experiment in what could only be consider a shocking change. “We the People” were given authority through the implementation of the Constitution to select our leaders, and then to hold them accountable through an open election process. In fact, this was so unique that it became known as “The Grand Experiment.”

The following four quotations highlight the significance associated with the foundation of American Exceptionalism. These are also warnings, should “We the People” ever forget that we decide the form of government we are to have.

"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty . . . is finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American People."
- George Washington (1732-1799)

"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?"
- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

"No free government can stand without virtue in the people, and a lofty spirit of patriotism . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
- John Adams (1735-1826)

"Our nation was founded as an experiment in human liberty. Its institutions reflect the belief of our founders that men had their origin and destiny in God"
- John Foster Dulles (1888-1959)

The Constitution was not handed down to us on stone tablets in the manner in which Moses received the Ten Commandments. Instead, men who were intent on establishing and preserving the freedoms we enjoy today knuckled down and hammered out the greatest man-made document in the history of the world. “All through the summer [of 1787], in closed sessions, the delegates debated, and redrafted the articles of the new Constitution. Among the chief points at issue were how much power to allow the central government, how many representatives in Congress to allow each state, and how these representatives should be elected--directly by the people or by the state legislators. The work of many minds, the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise.” (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html)

Second, voting is a privilege in that it gives us a voice in the way we choose to be governed. By not voting, the individual surrenders the decision of rule to those who do vote. When I vote, my candidate does not always win, but I’m involved in the process. Someone may argue that their vote doesn’t count anyway. This is categorically untrue. There have been countless elections at all levels of government decided by a few votes. The closest election in history was in 2000 when George Bush won the state of Florida over Al Gore by 537 popular votes!

And third, there are times when I am discouraged by the whole political process. It’s at those times that I remember the men and women who laid down their lives defending our freedoms. What excuse would I make to these patriots if I did not vote? What complaint of mine would sound acceptable to those who willingly forfeited their lives so I could have a future? My candidate won’t win anyway? I’m too busy to take ten minutes out of my day and vote? I don’t like either of the candidates?

Exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, November 6. It’s the right thing to do.

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