VOTE— As If Our Democracy Depends on It… It Does

My first participation in elections is close to ancient history. It started when Adlai Stevenson ran against Dwight Eisenhower for President in 1952. My parents were dedicated Republicans. Family loyalty dated all the way back to Abe Lincoln and the founding of the Party. It’s not surprising that they sent their 9-year-old child off to school proudly wearing an I Like Ike button on election day. Another set of parents, equally devoted to the Democratic Party, sent their fourth grader off to school wearing a Vote for Adlai button. It was inevitable that we would meet up for a debate. 

It took place in the boys’ bathroom, conveniently away from adult supervision. Neither of us knew enough about the issues to carry on a rational discussion, however. After about five words, we reverted to describing the other person’s candidate with as many expletives as we knew. Sound familiar? I was well-practiced in the art form. When I was younger, my brother and I had often held swearing contests where we creatively cussed each other out for fun. My opponent lacked this experience and I easily won the debate. I was still teasing him when we went outside for recess.

Unfortunately, his sense of humor had gone south and he was carrying a baseball bat. He reared back and smashed me across the thigh. (I’ve often suspected he had a slightly higher target in mind.) As it was, I ended up in the hospital with my thigh muscle the size of a softball, or was that a basketball. I was ever so glad that my man Ike won. Revenge can be sweet.

It was a painful lesson, but I learned two things from the encounter.

The first was quite obvious: Never get in a political argument with someone carrying a baseball bat. The second was more complicated. There had to be a better way to resolve political differences. 

The best answer that we have been able to come up with as a nation is democracy.

There is nothing guaranteed about our form of government, however. As astute leaders have noted for the past two hundred years: The price we pay for our liberty is eternal vigilance. There are always people who will rob us of our independence for their own personal gain or ideological beliefs. But there is more, our system of government is based on a few simple concepts. These are some that came to mind.

Our democracy…

  • Reflects the majority view of Americans while, at the same time, protects the basic right of minorities. 
  • Provides stability while adjusting to new challenges and changing needs.
  • Is more pragmatic than ideological when it comes to solving problems.
  • Recognizes that compromise, coalition building, and across-the-aisle cooperation are essential to the decision-making process in determining the nation’s best interest.
  • Provides for a peaceful transition of power. 

More than anything else, people have to believe that democracy works, that their concerns and interests are represented and addressed, and that they receive a fair hearing. When they lose this faith, our democracy loses. We all lose.

The single most important element in protecting American democracy is our right to vote and an uncompromising commitment to a smooth and peaceful transition of power. 

While getting out the vote is a time-honored practice in American democracy, suppressing the vote of those who don’t share a particular perspective is a dark and dangerous path that will inevitably lead to a dark and dangerous future. Numerous examples of suppression exist today in the 2020 election from tampering with the mail system, to making voting difficult, to spreading misinformation, and to threatening voters via the mail, phone and internet. When direct physical intimidation of voters is encouraged, whether it is people carrying AR 15s— or baseball bats— to polling places, the dark times are that much closer.

There are reasons why the Putins of the world, both outside and (sadly) inside our country, wish to reduce our faith in the democratic process. It weakens our nation and points toward an autocratic future— a future that few of us want to see.

Americans are a hardy breed, however. We have been fighting for our rights ever since the founding of the nation with an ever increasing and inclusive definition of citizenship that reflects the changing world we live in. 

And we are not going to stop now. 

Millions of Americans have already voted regardless of how many hurdles have been thrown up. In fact, they are dancing and singing in the multi-hour-long lines that voter suppression has played a role in creating. 

If you haven’t voted yet and are a citizen of voting age— regardless of your sex, ethnicity, color of skin, age, health, economic position, religion, sexual preference, occupation, other differences, or political party— PLEASE VOTE. Our democracy is depending on you.

Curt and Peggy

29 thoughts on “VOTE— As If Our Democracy Depends on It… It Does

  1. Good essay.
    My family was also Republican except for local Buffalo, NY politics. My neighbor in 1952 was a very pretty little girl, Sally Stevenson. We never talked politics.😊
    I agree totally on the importance of the vote and would only suggest that the integrity of that vote is important whether one is talking suppression or corruption.
    Finally, after nearly thirty years in D.C., I came to the conclusion that the one thing that separates our Democracy from others is the protections we have for minority views. Despite its frequent misuse, the filibuster was one of those protections. I thought it a mistake when Harry Reid limited it and again when McConnel reduced it further. I am appalled by those now suggesting they would “pack” the courts.

    • I won’t ask what you did talk about, Ray. I tend to agree on the filibuster although I also remember when the Dixicrats used it to suppress legislation that would have give black voters rights in the south.
      I’ve come to the conclusion that there should be no such thing as a life long appointment for judges, whatever their level. Maybe 12 years. The original intention was to maintain independence in the judiciary. As if that ever happened. And both parties are guilty. Thanks for you comment, Ray. –Curt

  2. I am living in hope and prayer for you all. What a mess he’s created, but as you say – you Americans are a hardy breed, and the voter turn out is certainly looking encouraging. Holding out for the very best outcome.
    Alison

    • The Trump folks and their allies can be counted on to use every voter suppression in the book. After that they will do everything possible to discredit the vote. I believe there is enough concern in the nation to beat Trump, however, and that once he is out, the Republicans will be out of power until the party becomes more moderate and broadens its base. Hopefully, our darkest days will be over, but there is ever so much work that has to be done. Thanks much Alison. Change is in the wind. If not, we will need all of the prayers we can get. –Curt

  3. Dropped our ballots in the official drop box the day after they arrived. Sometimes it seems as though we are near the last ones to get to vote! Oh, and I wouldn’t be the least bit upset if we were to limit those life long appointments to the SCOTUS.

    • We voted last week. Peggy mailed her ballot and I dropped mine off at a drop box. I can’t think of an election more important to the future of this nation.
      Something is going to happen with SCOTUS. There has to be a better way! –Curt

  4. It might be a bit presumptuous, especially coming from a non American, but at the moment voting for the republicans, knowing it will return Trump, would be an act of great disloyalty to everything that stands for democratic rights and privileges.
    The Trump-man is the opposite of honesty and empathy. How he got there in the first place remains shrouded in so much controversy. Hillary Clinton got more votes but the ‘Colleges’ decided an outcome that defies understanding.

    Mind you, here in Australia we also have strange outcomes. Instead of Colleges we have ‘Seats’ that determine the outcome. When I ask to clear up this strange way of elections, it’s a bit like when people try and explain cricket. I never get it, and in the process I fall asleep.

    Apparently logic and common sense don’t always prevail in the English speaking world; and is the best I come up with.

    • Laughing (in a way), Gerard. Some folks, especially the Q-anon people, are so far from logic and common sense, it boggles the mind.
      Trump didn’t create the soil that led to his election, he only plowed it. We can thank 30 years of extremist media, fundamentalism, and the Republican Party leaning farther and farther to the right for much of it.
      Changes are coming. At least I dearly hope so. –Curt

    • I think we are going to see major changes in our nation, Andrew. Once we get past voter suppression, the Democrats are in a clear majority. And are likely to be for many years. My hope for the Republican Party it will move away from its ideological base and become more moderate. A healthy two party system is healthy for the US. –Curt

  5. I voted in person, as I always do. My dad began taking me with him to the voting booth in 1956, when I was ten years old, and we went together every election until I left for college. None of us in the family ever shared out voting preferences, but we certainly shared opinions about the candidates!

    • At some point, our extensive travels led us to using absentee ballots, but I always had enjoyed voting in person. It was more person-al, so to speak. In Oregon, it’s all done by mail and has worked very well for the ten years we have been here.
      I enjoyed the story about your dad and the family ‘discussions’ on candidates. –Curt

  6. I took a chance and put my ballot into the mailbox the day I received it. It was two weeks ago, so I thought it would have time to get where it’s going. Oregon is 100% mail in voting and I’ve never worried about my ballot before this year. But I know Trumpies will do their best to prevent its delivery, prevent its receipt, prevent it being validated, and prevent it being counted. I wish I had the confidence that you have about the outcome. I was confident in 2016 and learned my lesson. I am in agony because I still think there is a good chance for four more years of him. He -and the Republican Party- have gotten away with all their lies and cheats these past four years (e.g. Amy Coney Barrett), so why would they suddenly not be able to cheat on Nov 3? I live in rural America, and my Trump-lovin’ neighbors love him more right now than they ever did. There is a massive support base behind him, and if that wretched human is re-elected, I won’t be surprised one bit.

    • I honestly don’t know what I will do if he steals the election, Crystal. And I don’t know what disturbs me more, Trump or the people who support him. Probably the people who support him. I am truly frightened for the future. I can pretty much guarantee massive protests if Trump steals the election. As there should be. –Curt

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