November 7, 2016

The Election Eve Post - 2016 Edition

It's that time again - the night before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. That means it's Election Eve, and time for me to do my darnedest to encourage you to vote.

I always enjoy looking at the prior year's post, and seeing what has changed and what hasn't. Last year at this time we were looking at Hillary vs. Martin, two Democrats, vs. Bernie, the I with a D next to his name. And, by this time, we were down to only fourteen Republicans; it's almost hard to remember when there was a clear choice between John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and you-know-who.

Locally, it's much quieter, although we do - again, gosh darn it - have one of the noisiest Congressional races in the country. Seems our district, which was once held by a Syracuse Republican for 20 years or so, continues to be a hot property. Some have said that if John Katko - the incumbent first term Republican - wins tonight, he too could be a 20 year man if he wanted. He's gotten a lot done, more than many, and he's had bipartisan support doing it, so we might have a save (or, would it be a steal?)

Here we are, facing a choice like none other, or maybe since the 1880's, according to one pundit. 

This is where we are, and we know what we must do.  

I’ll be voting.  And I want you to vote, too. 

Not because I say it's important; you should vote because it IS important.  

As I do every year, I offer the following motivation, in case you need it, with one addition, which you see in the picture above.

After some thought, “I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” (1) Actually “The idea of an election is much more interesting to me than the election itself…the act of voting is in itself the defining moment.” (2) And why is it that “When the political columnists say ‘every thinking man’ they mean themselves, and when candidates appeal to ‘every intelligent voter’ they mean everyone who is going to vote for them”? (3) 

We know it’s true that “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who didn’t vote” (4), and that “A citizen of American will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.” (5) Do we still not realize, after all these years, that “lower voter participation is a silent threat to our democracy… it under-represents young people, the poor, the disabled, those with little education, minorities and you and me”? (6) 

After all, “the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men” (7) and “to make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not just observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.” (8) And complain we do, after every election, when the wrong guy wins. If only people who actually voted complained, it’d likely be a lot less noisy. 

Some folks may not vote because they don’t know how to pick the right person. There are a couple different schools of thought on that. On the one hand, some might think that “politics is the art of the possible” (9) while others may subscribe to the thinking that “politics is not the art of the possible, it consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable. And it is true that, the great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter the chance to do something stupid.” (10) 

Said another way, a “Vote (is) the instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.” (11) But that’s OK – “personally, I believe that our American system works as long as you participate in it. You must vote and make your voice heard; otherwise you will be left out.” (12) 

It’s generally true that if you “ask a man which way he’s going to vote and he’ll  probably tell you. Ask him, however, why – and vagueness is all.” (13) But voting’s really easy; and “all voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong.” (14) And just about everyone likes to play a game every now and then, right? 

The bottom line is, “voting is simply a way of determining which side is the stronger without putting it to the test of fighting;” (15) “voting is a civic sacrament;” (16) and “the future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.” (17) If all of that seems like too much pressure, you have an out: “Vote for the man who promises least. He’ll be the least disappointing.” (18) 

Please, vote. It really does matter, this year and every year. If you need information on where to vote, or other assistance, visit Vote411.org or contact your local Board of Elections. 

(Thanks to these folks for their words of wisdom: 1 - Charles DeGaulle; 2 – Jeff Melvoin; 3 – Franklin P Adams; 4 and 13 – Andrew Lack; 5 - Bill Vaughan; 6 - Nancy Neuman; 7 - Lyndon B Johnson; 8 - Louis L’Amour; 9 – Otto Von Bismarck; 10 – Art Spander; 11 – Ambrose Bierce; 12 - Mari-Luci Jaramillo; 14 – Henry David Thoreau; 15 – H.L. Mencken; 16—Theodore Hesburgh; 17 – Dwight D. Eisenhower; 18 – Bernard Baruch)