Can­di­dates aside, be sure to vote

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - Ann McFeat­ters

— To vote, or not to vote? That is the big ques­tion for a lot of Amer­i­cans.

It’s easy to say ev­ery­one who can vote should. Oth­er­wise, why have a democ­racy?

The tone (stench) of this cam­paign, how­ever, has been so off-putting that many who have never thought of not vot­ing can’t stom­ach the idea of step­ping into a vot­ing sta­tion.

There’s no point at this late date (al­though this has been The Elec­tion That Went on For­ever) of re­hash­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton’s good points and Don­ald Trump’s bad points. Or Clin­ton’s trust is­sues and ob­vi­ous short­com­ings and Trump’s take-no-prison­ers di­a­tribes against women, im­mi­grants and any­one who of­fends him.

No mat­ter what hap­pens, 40 per­cent of Amer­i­cans will be so dis­grun­tled they will spend the next four years com­plain­ing and ver­bally trash­ing the vic­tor. We are so po­lar­ized that the very idea of Ron­ald Rea­gan’s prom­ise of “morn­ing in Amer­ica” makes us a lit­tle queasy. It’s so not hap­pen­ing this year.

Who­ever wins will not be able to do most of what he or she promised. We will be dis­ap­pointed and prob­a­bly an­gry.

But we have had bad choices be­fore and sur­vived. Ac­tu­ally, many of our elec­tions were deplorable. Think seg­re­ga­tion­ist Ge­orge Wal­lace’s can­di­dacy. Con­sider the venom of the Barry Gold­wa­ter vs. Lyn­don John­son match. Recall the 1828 con­test be­tween An­drew Jack­son and John Quincy Adams, when Jack­son’s wife was called a “con­victed adul­ter­ess” be­cause she was not prop­erly di­vorced when she mar­ried Jack­son. She died soon af­ter the elec­tion. We’ve even for­got­ten that the nasty 2012 con­test be­tween Barack Obama and Mitt Rom­ney seemed too dread­ful to bear at the time.

Vot­ing is a per­sonal choice. The idea of hav­ing to make a choice we don’t like and then liv­ing with it may seem in­tol­er­a­ble. But not mak­ing a choice _ sit­ting out the elec­tion _ is to turn our fate over to oth­ers. It is to ig­nore so-called down bal­lot races where there will be real con­se­quences that af­fect each of us and our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties for years if we don’t vote.

Im­mi­grants who come to this coun­try from dic­ta­tor­ships are ap­palled at how lit­tle re­spect many of us have for our right to vote. The Cen­ter for the Study of the Amer­i­can Elec­torate says 57.5 per­cent of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers went to the polls in 2012. This was down from 62.3 per­cent in 2008, 60.4 per­cent in 2004 and 54.2 per­cent in 2000.

There has been a lot of talk that turnout in some of the big coun­ties in swing states would be un­usu­ally low this year. The good news is that early vot­ing shows an uptick and that there has been a large in­crease in peo­ple vot­ing early. A key to this elec­tion will be whether mil­len­ni­als vote.

There prob­a­bly should be a law that if you don’t vote, you don’t get to com­plain about the elec­tion or the aftermath.

This elec­tion has been truly aw­ful, and not just for giv­ing big­ots free rein to vent their fear and hate, but also for its lack of sub­stance on pol­icy is­sues that we have to con­front soon. Very soon. So­cial Se­cu­rity. Medi­care. Tax re­form. Re­build­ing crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture. Re­form­ing bro­ken and out­moded im­mi­gra­tion laws. Re­train­ing work­ers who have lost jobs that no longer ex­ist and will never come back. Ed­u­cat­ing our chil­dren to han­dle the fu­ture when tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and science will be more im­por­tant than ever. Chaos abroad.

And giv­ing those chil­dren rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tions that it is still pos­si­ble in this coun­try to live the good life of the mid­dle class. Hard work, dis­ci­pline and the right skills do pay off.

When we thank our veter­ans for their ser­vice in pro­tect­ing our coun­try, we are thank­ing them in large mea­sure for pro­tect­ing our right to vote. Thou­sands have died to pro­tect that priv­i­lege and duty.

It’s scary to think of throw­ing that away be­cause of the flaws in the can­di­dates. Who­ever takes the White House may be a bet­ter leader than we think. So, let’s hold our noses and do this thing. We may not like the re­sults, but in four years, we can do it all again! Ah, the power of hope.

Ann McFeat­ters is a colum­nist for Tri­bune News Ser­vice. Read­ers may send her email at am­cfeat­ters@na­tion­al­press.com.

WASH­ING­TON

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