Civic duty: Rising above the muck
Just weeks from Election Day, America is evenly divided right now. There are those who want to decide America’s future based on the critical issues we face. Then, there are those who want to decide America’s future based on personal histories: The reportedly criminal past of the female candidate and the sexually sordid past of her former-president husband or opting for a vulgar-businessman who says he wants to turn the Washington Establishment upside-down and out to pasture.
Let’s face it. Neither of these candidates are angels. Historians will be forever trying to figure out how the presidential election of 2016 presented the voters with such a Hobson’s choice. This brings to mind the unofficial motto of the U.S. Coast Guard: "You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back." Well, none of us have to vote. But, if we want the nation we once knew and loved to come back from its current precarious state, America’s stake-holders at least ought to go out and vote.
As matters stand right now, we are presented with two starkly different alternatives. One side touts more of the same. The other side promises dramatic change. And, in the middle of a contest over two vastly visions for America’s future, we are faced with the candidates’ seamy past personal histories. Yet we cannot proceed along the path to the future without someone occupying the Oval Office and, most importantly, that someone will be deciding who will occupy all those seats on the U.S. Supreme Court that the inevitable aging process is about to open up for presidential nominations.
Eligible voters who cannot get past the tawdry backgrounds of the two candidates would be well-advised to focus on the U.S. Supreme Court. Vote one way and the Court will likely veer sharply liberal. Vote another way, and the Court will likely be more conservative. Therefore, viewed not through the lens of the media cat fights of he-said-she-said, we ought to be able to rise above the muck and mire, and see voting as our most fundamental civic duty.
But the 2016 election is about more than whose names are at the top of the ballot. Important U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representative races need to be decided as well as contests that go all the way to the county and local government level. Then, there are those sometimes confusing state constitution amendments that can have profound impact on how people end up living within their individual states and can even alter dramatically the social fabric within a state. Marijuana is a case in point.
It is often said that we get the kind of government we deserve. So, this election brings to mind Deana Carter’s Country-Western classic: "Did I Shave My Legs for This?" (Capitol Nashville, 1966). Like it or not, this is the situation we face. But Americans have a rich history of rising above the circumstances they face. And when Americans by the millions flock to the polls, we usually find a way to muddle through. We just have to do our duty.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2016. William Hamilton.
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