Picture yourself in line at the local grocery store. There is a nice older lady ahead of you speaking with the young man running the cash register. Looking over your shoulder you see seven other people in line. How many of these people — including you — will actually take time to cast a ballot for president this Tuesday?
According to the America Presidency Project (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu), barely six of 10 people (58.8 percent) found their way to the voting booth for 2008 presidential election.
“I’m not going to vote,” said one man recently, “because I might have to serve jury duty. I don’t really want to risk it.”
Unfortunately, there are many people who seem to be forgetting democracy is a participation sport, so to say. Democracy, particularly one like the republic in existence in the United States, is still very much an experiment in human history. But without a doubt, never have so many lived so free for so long.
Granted, our republic is a work in progress, and that is exactly what propels our nation forward. We’ve made bad decisions in the past, and probably will make more in the future. But the beauty of this amazing democratic republic is that it is a self-correcting society. As principles and values change or evolve, then so does the direction of our government.
Historically speaking, women and minorities only recently gained the ability to vote. As a matter of fact, early on, just being a white male was not enough to guarantee the right to cast a vote. Through the 1850s many states required a white male to be a property owner or be a current taxpayer to participate. Combine this to other tactical moves to create barriers to potential voters (poll taxes, religious qualifications, etc.) and you see why the current pool of potential voters never had it so good.
Only we continue to struggle to get voters to the election box.
What is so hard about this? You register, you show up, you cast your vote. Big deal — probably takes more time to sit through the drive-through at your favorite fast food restaurant. Recent studies from the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media claim people spend, on average, eight hours a month on Facebook. I’m sorry, but no one is that interesting.
So why is it so many essentially “opt out” of participating in this grand experiment? Everyone has an opinion. Why not be heard? Why not join in and cast a ballot? We, as a society, can’t win if you don’t play.
This year let’s encourage someone we know to go to the ballot box. Voting is a right and privilege forged from a literal combination of blood, sweat and tears. If you doubt this, all you need is a brief tour of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
So this year let’s all work to carve out a few minutes to join in the grand experiment known as the United States. Vote with your ballot — and then update your status on Facebook to read, “I count. Do you?”
Woolsey is the publisher of the Times-Georgian. You can read more of his columns at leonardwoolsey.com.