Cast the first votes of the 21st Century!
Assuming you are eligible to do so, gentle reader, are you going to vote this Election Day? Before you answer, allow me to recite some of the excuses and odd political theories some eligible voters give for failing to take advantage of a right that most of the world’s population would die for and even kill for – and, sometimes do. Our Founders did so in 1776.
1. My one vote won’t make a difference. Space does not permit a recitation of all the elections and the great issues before legislative bodies and panels of judges that have been decided by just one vote. Trust me. The number of times one vote decided important elections and issues boggles the mind. Your vote does count.
2. I do not like either of the candidates. The only perfect candidate is you! Only you have your own unique set of views on the issues. No one candidate is going to mirror your views on every issue. If you don’t have the gumption or the ability to run for office yourself, then you have already abdicated that role to someone else who will run. That understood, some compromise is in order. Vote for the candidate you think has the strength of character to stand up for the issues on which you are in agreement and will help you get at least a portion of what you believe in translated into reality. A half loaf is better than no loaf at all.
3. I may vote for one of the splinter-party candidates. If you want to throw your vote away and not have it count, then that is exactly the way to do it. Some voters think they are sending a “message” to the two major parties by voting for splinter-party candidates. Believe me, the message does not register in a national political system that is now and forever will be a two-party system. If former President Teddy Roosevelt couldn’t win on a third-party ticket, it probably won’t ever happen. Voting for a third-party candidate may elect the evil of two lessers. That has happened twice in this decade.
4. My wife and I always cancel each other’s votes. Wonder Wife and I don’t always agree on every candidate and every ballot issue. But we sit down and talk it out. Sometimes, I convince her to change her mind and vice versa. When that isn’t possible, we work out a deal where I follow her desires on some candidates and issues and she accepts my lead on others. But we never, ever cancel each other’s votes. We make our family votes count.
5. Term limits provide needed turnover and I don’t need to vote. The Law of Unintended Consequences is always at work and it has a role to play with term limits. Now, many of our law-making bodies are suffering problems caused by inexperienced law-makers. State Senates across the land are particularly hard hit by the loss of seasoned leaders. Happily, there are experienced House members who will run for the Senate posts. If they have good records, they should be promoted.
6. I only vote for the person. If one candidate is a bad person and the other is a good person, vote for the good person. But if there are no issues of character between two candidates, one should look to see which candidate’s party is the majority party. After all, the point of voting is to get your agenda enacted. If one has a choice between an experienced House member of the majority party trying to move up to a Senate seat, versus a novice of the minority party, vote for the majority candidate who has a chance of moving your agenda forward.
This first election of the 21st Century will tell us a lot about ourselves as a people. But if we do not bother to vote, do we deserve to keep the freedoms we have?
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a former professor of history and political science.