html 4.0 transitional//en"> "Catch-22" of the ballot box

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"Catch-22" of the ballot box

Being new to Primary elections I had a hard time finding the location for casting my vote. Our system appears to make this simplest of all things -- voting -- as difficult as possible. From the looks of recent election returns a lot of other people could not find the polls either.

America has been pushing democratic values for over two centuries with voter turnout only getting lower and lower. In 1996 presidential election voter turnout dropped below the fifty percent mark for the first time. Which means a person can hold office today with just a few citizen's favor.

The freedom to vote is more than a freedom and a privilege. It is a duty. White males have had this freedom to vote for 225 years; black males since 1870 and women since 1920. Many have given their lives to secure this privilege for us.

What can be done to encourage people to register to vote and take the time to vote in local, state and national elections? Everyone who can vote needs to remember voting is necessary to keep America free. It is a responsibility as much as it is a privilege. It probably should be a law that every person who can vote, votes.

It might be a good idea to give a hefty fine, like $100., to all who do not register to vote. Then fine the registered voters $200. if they do not take the time to vote. With freedom and privilege comes civic responsibility.

Why not hold the elections on Sunday when people would have all day to go vote. Let them vote before or after church, at the supermarket or the car wash. Make voting places easy to find.

Something that would get more people out to vote, regardless of how difficult it is to find the place, would be to have candidates with integrity and principles. Candidates unafraid to take a stand for what is right. Not take a stand to get votes.

Recently W. Bush and A. Gore stood up for the "rights" of the six-year old boy from Cuba, Elián González in Miami. Both these candidates for the highest office in the land intervened merely to gain Florida's Cuban vote. If Vice President Gore had a good solution to that problem let him talk in private with the President or those in the Justice Department. His announcing his "convictions" in public was just for votes. It was just a tad more disgusting than W. Bush's comments. I do not believe either man has the integrity to be president when they say such things for a few cheap votes from anti-Castro Florida Cubans.

With freedom and privilege there comes responsibility. I think more voters recognize this than candidates. If the candidates cared for the public as they claim they would throw out the corrupt campaign finance system that buys votes. It is a system filled with loop-holes. And if we let it continue we will deserve the dictators we get.

If we are serious about retaining our freedoms we best start demanding more of our leaders. The only way we get their attention is at the ballot box. We cannot let this nation go down the drain because of candidates who will do or say anything to get our votes.

The voter will have less and less say in government, until one day Americans will wake up and find their vote is no longer required or desired. A military general, or a multinational corporate head, or a wealthy politician will have become out leader because of our apathy.

People of integrity and principle are desperately needed to lead our nation. Such people can produce policies that are just and programs that are aboveboard. It should not be, but we know most campaign trail promises hold little truth. We should not accept that. We should hold those who seek higher office to a higher standard. Those who would lead us need to know more is expected of them than simply pointing out their opponent's shortcomings and giving us empty promises.

So comes the dilemma: when there are none on the ballot that appear worthy, why vote? The result is that many people just opt out on election day. We have a responsibility to vote. We have to take that freedom seriously, yet the men clamoring for the office know little of the real world, having been born into rich and powerful political families. Most often being born privileged makes it doubly difficult for them to even begin to perceive the needs of the underprivileged. They are not worthy of our vote and yet we must not refrain from voting. There are other candidates but they get no notice from the media. It is the "Catch-22" of all time! ---------- ---- May 19, 2000


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