Everyone seems to have intense feelings about this year’s election, and I am no exception. Relief (at least for me) arrived in my mailbox over the weekend when we received our ballots from the Linn County Clerk’s Office.
The ballot is hard to miss with its red letter warning that it, “Contains Vote on Proposed Tax Increase,” and an even bolder notice of, “Ballot Enclosed.” Obviously, I can’t comment on any of the proposed measures or candidates in this forum, except to say that I strongly encourage all citizens to exercise their right and responsibility to vote. I don’t delude myself into thinking my vote is likely to provide the winning margin in a closely contested race or that my vote is of greater or lesser significance than any others. I just believe my vote is important to my country, my community, and me.
All of us who claim to love this country and the sacrifices many have made to make it what it is have an obligation to participate in the elections that provide legitimacy to the whole idea that citizens have the right to determine how they are governed. Dismissing elections as unimportant or irrelevant is essentially telling the world that any government is as good or bad as any other. As someone who has worked in many different countries and seen how their governments operate, I am grateful for what we have in the United States. Voting, paying taxes, serving in the military, and observing laws have seemed like a small price to pay for the benefits I have received.
I realize we do not all share equally in the blessings of life in this country, but voting is one tool to help us do better. I listened to a report on the news this morning about a woman from Mosul, Iraq, fleeing with her children to find a safer home. Her first concern was getting to a place where her children could safely attend school. She realized that education offers the greatest hope for her children to escape not only the dangers of a war zone, but also the misery of life in a place dominated by ignorance and poverty. Some may recall the pride Iraqis took in having their thumbs marked with purple ink during the first national elections following the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule. Residents of Mosul lost the right to vote when their city was captured by ISIS terrorists; and, now, people are dying in the effort to restore their freedoms.
No one is asking most of us to die by November 8 on behalf of our country. All we need to do is take a few minutes and fill out a ballot. I know I will strongly disagree with some of the decisions my fellow citizens will make, just as they will disagree with mine. Our disagreement will be resolved at the county clerk’s office, and we will honor the choices made by all of us. It is a much better way than what many in the world will experience during their lives. Our votes matter.