Larry Osterman's WebLog

Confessions of an Old Fogey
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November 2nd

November 2nd

  • Comments 27

Twenty four years ago, on the Tuesday of the first full week in November, I dutifully filled in my absentee presidential ballot (for John Anderson, who was running as an independent).

I've voted in every election that I've been eligible since then.

As a citizen of a democracy, it is my civic responsibility to vote.  And I take that responsibility very seriously.  I vote in primaries, I vote in special elections, I vote in general elections.

This year it's especially important to vote, regardless of whose side you support, your candidate needs your support.  It's critical that EVERYONE who can vote, vote.

This year, it looks like Washington State is going to have an 85% turnout of registered voters, which is likely to be the highest since WWII.  I am indescribably proud of this statistic (OTOH, in 2000, 74% of the registered voters voted, which was only 56% of the voting age population)

Unfortunately, the turnouts in other states aren't nearly as good, for instance, in 2000, only 55% of the registered voters in Oklahoma turned out to vote (48% of the voting age population). 

With an election that is this close, and with what appear to be concerted efforts to suppress the vote in close contests, it is even more critical that everyone take time off from work and vote.  As I said - I don't care who you vote for, just that you vote. 

If you don't vote, then you don't get to complain.

Valorie chased down the following poem by John Greenleaf Whittier that was read on NPR this morning.  It's a bit florid (it was written in 1848) but it says it well:

THE POOR VOTER ON ELECTION DAY.

THE proudest now is but my peer,
The highest not more high;
To-day, of all the weary year,
A king of men am I.
To-day, alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known;
My palace is the people's hall,
The ballot-box my throne!

Who serves to-day upon the list
Beside the served shall stand;
Alike the brown and wrinkled fist,
The gloved and dainty hand!
The rich is level with the poor,
The weak is strong to-day;
And sleekest broadcloth counts no more
Than homespun frock of gray.

To-day let pomp and vain pretence
My stubborn right abide;
I set a plain man's common sense
Against the pedant's pride.
To-day shall simple manhood try
The strength of gold and land;
The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in my right hand!

While there's a grief to seek redress,
Or balance to adjust,
Where weighs our living manhood less
Than Mammon's vilest dust,--
While there's a right to need my vote,
A wrong to sweep away,
Up! clouted knee and ragged coat
A man's a man to-day
1848.

Tomorrow, back to technical stuff.
  • >If you don't vote, then you don't get to complain.

    That is wrong, and that statement really bugs me. Elected officials represent _everyone_ in their constituency, not just those who are eligible to vote and did vote.
  • Jacques,
    If you don't vote, then you have no right to complain about the performance of the person in office. If you don't like his performance, then you should have voted to kick him out.

    If you voted, then you're making an assertive choice. Passivity is not a choice.
  • I completely agree with you Larry.

    Although I sense Jacques is speaking more from a standpoint of someone who is not eligible to vote - such as a minor or non-citizen. Those, of course, being special cases.
  • Larry... some of us have lived here long enough and paid enough in taxes but are unable to vote that they get kind of pissed about the whole being unable to vote thing.

    I won't be able to vote for another 2 years. Unlike people born in America, I have to fight for my chance to vote.

    So some of us take this real seriously. Even though we can't vote, we damn well want to make sure that everyone who can vote does, and we have a very very loud opinion.

    It all goes back to this whole "taxation without representation" thing.
  • Simon, I hear what you are saying, and it is frustrating. I assume you are making your way through the citizen process.

    Although it takes more of your time, people in your position can have some voice (and in many cases a stronger voice) by helping out in campaigns, state and local lobbyist groups, and special interests groups.

    This latest race has proved to me that the smallest detail can make up the mind of a voter. It only takes one sentence that sounds good to someone to change their minds. It's very scary really, but it's a big example of how much of an effect a large and active campaign base can have. There is real power there.
  • Note that "suppress the vote" is usually a euphemism for trying to prevent voter fraud. If we really want every vote to count, shouldn't we make every effort to ensure that only living, eligible voters are allowed to vote? The incidents of dead people, pets, voting multiple times, etc. are extraordinaril well-documented.
  • Donnie,
    If the parties involved were working to prevent voter fraud for ALL registered voters, then I'd be willing to call it as a voter fraud prevention measure.

    But for some reason, the only registrations that get challenged seem to be for a single party, and I've only seen one party mentioned in the media (both conservative AND liberal media) as being dedicated to avoiding voter fraud.

    I can only think that if the one party that is trying to reduce voter fraud is doing it by trying to reduce the number of fraudulent voter registrations for the other party, that they're not doing it because they legitimately want to reduce fraud, but instead because they believe that it helps their cause.

  • Hmm.... NPR - I know which candidate you voted for :-)
  • Actually, DeepICE, you don't know :) I'm fiercely independant, and I vote for both democrats and republicans.

    I think that NPR's the best news source from 6:30AM until 9:00AM in the morning (between when I get up and when I get to work), that's why I listen to them.

  • "... regardless of whose side you support ..."
    You said it, Larry!
  • Funny. People will hear what you say you listen to on the radio and feel as though they can figure out your party affiliation.

    DeepICE must watch Fox News.
  • The 1st amendment gives us all the right to complain. Its protection is not contingent on whether or not we vote.
  • Actually, the 1st amendment doesn't give you the right to complain.

    First off, the only thing that the first amendment does is to prevent the government from stopping you from speaking. It doesn't guarantee the right to unlimited speach (a subtle difference).

    Second, yeah, the government can't stop you. But by not voting, you CHOSE to not make a choice. And if you didn't make a choice, you have no moral standing to complain about the consequences of your inaction.
  • Well said. Vote if you can.

    "I can only think that if the one party that is trying to reduce voter fraud is doing it by trying to reduce the number of fraudulent voter registrations for the other party, that they're not doing it because they legitimately want to reduce fraud, but instead because they believe that it helps their cause. "

    Then the other party should be doing the same thing. That's the nature of adversarial systems like ours.
  • The 1st amendment protects me both from the government and from the mob who would silence me with the "love it or leave it"/"no vote, no voice" rhetoric.
    I didn't/wouldn't make any claims about rights to unlimited speech*. That would be silly.
    "Moral"? Good heavens! I thought this was about rights. I don't feel I'm qualified to judge on moral grounds.

    * 2 e's; no a. :-P
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