Time to do your duty and vote - no excuses

IT WAS FORMER PRESIDENT Gerald Ford who said, in his first address to the nation after Richard Nixon resigned from office, that “our long national nightmare is over.”

Ford was referring, of course, to the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation, but many of us might be tempted to resurrect that phrase as we cast our ballots next Tuesday – those, that is, who have not cast them already in advance.

Election Day marks the end of a long presidential campaign that has been, in many ways, one of the ugliest and nastiest in American political history.

We have been inundated for months on end with mudslinging, charges and counter charges, allegations and innuendoes, scandals and much, much more.

We have all been deluged with advertising in all media, phone calls, mailings, yard signs, news coverage and all the trappings of a modern election.

Yet none of it is really anything new in American politics. And the dire predictions from both sides of doom and gloom, rack and ruin if the other side wins have been heard in every election season almost since the first Congress and the first President were elected by a new nation more than two centuries ago.

We can never expect to all agree or to find complete unanimity on any one candidate or issue, but we need to remember there has never been a time in our history where we have not come together when we need to, or where the ship of state has not sailed forward on its course – although sometimes it may seem to veer too far off course in one direction or another for the satisfaction of some of the sailors or passengers.

It reached the point of overload and excess long ago for many, but it is still how the system works and the alternative is too grim to think about.

Despite all its flaws, its irritations and its distractions, our democratic process still works because of those who take the time to make it work. That will be true again after the campaign dust has settled following Tuesday’s voting.

It may seem imperfect and aggravating at times, but our process proves, in each election cycle, that Winston Churchill’s observation still holds true: “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried fr om time to time.”

Whatever we may think of the process, or the end result, there should be no room for criticism of either from those who choose not to participate.

It should not have to be repeated, yet it bears repeating, that voting is the most fundamental and sacred right we as American citizens have, one that we should exercise the most diligently and with the greatest, most serious thoughtfulness.

Countless numbers of brave men and women have died to protect our rights, including the right to vote, over the past several centuries and we should all ensure that their sacrifice was not made in vain.

It is our duty and responsibility to vote, each and every one of us, whether it be in advance, by absentee ballot or on Election Day.

There should be no excuse.

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