For Release October 8, 2002

Voting Is an Important Act of Patriotism

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 stirred up a lot of patriotism in most Americans. Even those of us who have always felt that we were fairly patriotic found that our patriotism was taken up to another level after those attacks. We see a lot more flags flying now than we did before, we hear a lot more pride in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and most of us probably develop a lump in our throats every time our flag goes by in a parade.

Yet with all of these strong feelings, we are still falling short in what I feel to be the most patriotic action that we can take part in; voting. If you think back to one of the tenets that started the American Revolution, it was taxation without representation. The King of England was levying more and more taxes against the colonies. The colonies were requesting representatives in the House of Commons to state why these taxes were unfair. They were not granted representation and the rest is history.

What does that have to do with today or patriotism? After all, that was over 225 years ago. Well, there were a lot of people who signed their names onto a death warrant called the Declaration of Independence. Had the revolution failed, all of those men would have been shot or placed in prison for the rest of their lives. Many of the signers did fight in the revolutionary war. They went to all this personal risk and danger for some very simple and basic rights. They felt that people should have the right to be involved with, and have a say in, their own future. They felt that the citizens of a country deserve to be able to vote for the people that would lead the government.

The concept is called one person, one vote. Because of my background, my job, my education or anything else, my vote counts no more or less than yourís or anyone elseís; UNLESS, you donít vote. If you donít vote, you have abdicated your opportunity to have a say in the future. It doesnít matter whether itís city or county government, state or federal government, you have just effectively said that you donít care, or you donít mind if everyone else runs your life.

Now, along come all the nay sayers who will try to tell you that you are only one vote and it doesnít matter. Well, if thatís the case, then fine, donít vote. Because that gives all the more sway to my vote. And I obviously know the best way to run the country. If that doesnít scare you into voting, it should!

The bottom line is, that it is your patriotic responsibility to vote. Flag waving is easy, but voting takes a little bit of your time to become educated about the candidates and then go out and vote. When you complain about this or that government group and what they have or havenít done, but didnít vote in the election, it just goes back to the old phrase, talk is cheap. Now get involved, get your family, friends and neighbors involved!

The next election is November 5th. Before you can vote, you have to be registered. If you donít know if your voter registration is current, or if you even are registered to vote, call the county clerkís office at 238-3912. You have until October 21st to get registered. Then you have to vote. If you are afraid that you wonít remember to vote, you can advance vote at the county clerkís office starting October 16th. It is a sad statement about our patriotism when we have troubles getting more than 1 in 5 registered voters out to vote. Letís swamp the polls come November 5th. Letís show the whole world what real patriots are like. Letís vote!


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