Get off your duff and go vote!

Today is the day. Election Day. According to some pundits, and even the president himself, this is the most important election in all of history. We’ve heard that before, or course, but in truth every election is important because each one affords we the people an opportunity to express our opinion, to elect government officials and to weigh in on a variety of topics on the ballot. Elections really do have consequences.

Now don’t fear, I’m not going to try to tell you how to vote today. Like most of you, I have my own opinions and my preferences and my vision for our city, county, state and country. I’m going to keep those to myself. I neither want nor intend to sway you from your opinions, but I am trying to get you to get up off the couch and go vote today. I recognize your right to your own opinions and preferences, and I promise I won’t call you any silly names if you happen to see things differently. This is America, a place where we openly tolerate such things and should celebrate our freedom to disagree.

I’ve been working as a journalist for decades now, and it’s quite alarming when those making a living in this profession are called the enemy of the people. Why some right here in Lassen County call me the King of Bias, or claim I’m simply another Good Ol’ Boy because — get this — I’m a member of Rotary. I’ve worked at the paper for nearly 20 years, so I must have joined the establishment conspiracy cartel. Hey, I’ve even been slammed recently because of a letter to the editor published in the newspaper, a section of the paper designed to let readers publicly express their opinions. I guess some folks hold the erroneous and inexplicable notion that I agree with every opinion published in the paper. It comes with the territory, I guess, and I’ve learned to simply consider the source of such attacks and accusations and move on.

So let me say it again — I’m not trying to influence your vote — I’m simply imploring you to go cast your ballot. I really don’t care about your political views or orientation. I care about your participation.

I’m old enough to remember the passage of the 26th Amendment, the one that lowered the federal voting age from 21 to 18. Despite the war and all of the social upheaval and the alleged culture wars at the time, reasonable people could still agree about some things back then. Consider this. The U.S. Senate approved the amendment 94-0, and the House of Representatives passed it by a 401-19 margin. The amendment became law July 1, 1971 after being ratified by 38 state legislatures. It didn’t help me, given the date of the accident of my birth. The amendment became law just two months before I turned 21.

Still, I’m proud to say I believe I’ve voted in every single election since that day, although I do acknowledge the possibility I may have missed one or two and just don’t remember my failings.

You know, it’s quite easy for me, a child of the 1960s, to pick at America’s flaws and failures, to peel off the scabs of our nation’s shortcomings, but the truth is I always want my country to rise to very highest expression of its lofty ideals. I want us to be that great land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in which all of us are equal in God’s eyes and share all those unalienable rights he has granted us.

In their wisdom, the Founding Fathers created a system that gave us a voice. That franchise has expanded over a couple of centuries to include women and former slaves — people never considered as voters at the nation’s founding.

Ah, wouldn’t it be great if everyone eligible to cast a vote and steer the ship of state did so? Your vote matters. I hope you will join me and take the time to vote today.

Tell me — what do you have to do today that could possibly be more important?