Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vote, damn it

The voter registration deadline has come and gone in West Virginia. If you didn't register, you can't vote, and don't come crying to me later when your government isn't doing what you want it to do.

If you are registered, don't throw that right away by staying home November 6. There are enough politicians and state legislatures out there already trying to take that right away. They don't need your help, they need you to oppose them.

Voting rights should be EXPANDED, not restricted, no matter your political persuasion. You think your vote doesn't count? There's really only one contest where it could be argued that it doesn't, and that's the Top Job, where the Supreme Court Electoral College determines the winner. (In the current political climate, I question what one wins.)

Every other candidate and issue on the ballot wins or loses because you made the effort to cast a ballot.

Yes, you.

As both of you know, I don't watch much television. I've learned that I'm a happier, saner, nicer person when I don't watch the news, and it's been a while since I've had a favorite, can't-miss program. HBO's The Newsroom would be the most recent qualifier. The West Wing is probably the last. I watch sports – that's my reality TV.  I watched the Democratic convention and I've tuned in to all of the debates.

During campaign season, it's not the programming itself that sends me into apoplectic fits, it's the commercials. Here in West Virginia it appears that the candidates for U.S. Senator and for governor of West Virginia are all running against President Obama.

All. Of. Them.

The Republicans are lumping the Democrats in with the President because, well, they're Democrats, while the Democrats are distancing themselves from him – "I'll stand up to anybody" is one of their oft-repeated and memorable lines – in the name of coal. (Here's a hint, guys: Your war on coal and "Obama's job-killing EPA" is misguided. Natural gas is coal's cleaner, cheaper competition. Nixon – yes, Nixon – started the EPA.)

It's easier than ever – at least for now – to cast a ballot. (It's much more difficult to register, however. Thank you, Patriot Act. And first-time voters may have to show some form of identification at the polls.) With early voting, you can't use the "I'm too busy the first Tuesday in November" excuse any longer. In my county, voting booths are set up in the courthouse beginning next Wednesday and continuing through the Saturday before Election Day.

So vote, damn it.

One more thing: I've heard more than a few people say they'll vote, all right, but they're not going to vote for [fill-in-the-office-of-your-choice – President, Senator or Governor].

I can't tell you what to do when it's just you and that screen. Actually I can, but you don't have to listen to or follow my advice. That's what secret ballots are all about. You can even tell me to my face that you're going to scratch the rooster, but when it comes right down to it, I'll never know whether you did or not.

But if you don't vote for [fill-in-the-office-of-your-choice] you might as well just vote for the other guy. If your candidate doesn't win, you have no way of influencing him/her once s/he takes the oath.

As recently as a month ago, I was one of those. I've been, um, enlightened. I'll hold my nose and vote a straight ticket. I then plan to bombard my Senator and Governor (because West Virginia is, in the end, a blue state until you start talking about the Electoral College) with letters and phone calls and e-mails, reminding them that I'm a constituent, too.

I don't work in a coal mine. I drink water from a well. My government needs to remember that voters like me outnumber coal miners by a wide margin. President Obama's Nixon's "job-killing EPA" is supposed to make the air safe to breathe and the water safe to drink. I think my representatives need to be reminded of that.

(And yes, I know they're not really standing up for miners. It's the coal company owners who fill their campaign coffers. But I'll play along until they take the oath of office.)

4 comments:

  1. our early voting started a couple weeks ago. I think that is such a nice feature for so many busy people.

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  2. You are so right. And I'm not a big political talker. The more I learn with my kids about history, the more I want to exercise my Right and Duty to vote. Great, passionate article!

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  3. Last night on the phone with my Mom she said she was so disgusted by the debates and the two candidates just calling each other liars that she didn't think she would vote at all.

    Since she's a by the book Republican who regularly watches Fox News and believes everything Rush says, I just stayed silent. If she goes to the polls, it will be to vote for Romney, so I figured my silent "consent" to that remark was doing my part for Obama. (Any attempt to make supporting comments about Obama is met with the typical Fox News/Republican anti-Obama rhetoric, so silence is the best option here.)

    In the end though, I'm sure she'll go cast her vote. Don't ever remember her missing a presidential election before.

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  4. My hubby says that all the time. If you don't vote you can't complain, and....I like to complain! I was wondering about how you were feeling when they were talking about the coal workers on the debate. I know, I don't like the electorial college bit myself. I always feel frustrated that my vote don't count when I go to the poll, but....I will ALWAYS go. I feel like it is just fostering state vs. state instead of just each person's vote counting, period.

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