Staff editorial: Voting is a fought for, bloody privilege
If you are reading this there is a good chance that by now you have already voted in the 2007 election.
In fact, most of those looking at these words didn't vote in this election, and may not have never voted at all in any election.
It's a travesty none of us have any excuse for.
Most of the world's people have no influence on their government at all. They live under dictatorships, monarchs or supposed democratic governments that hold elections where there is only one candidate for each office, and that is the governmental sponsored one.
While democracy has been growing throughout the globe in the last century, there are also many more examples of countries that have gone backwards. Just watch the news and a few times a year a previous democracy becomes a dictatorship as a president declares himself the leader of a country for the rest of his life. Those kinds of governments usually don't last the life of the man who declares it, but it disrupts the system of democracy in the country, and often they are fledgling ones, that it takes a lot of time and effort to get something back in place that resembles a people's government.
In this country a lot of citizens have given up voting because they feel they have so little effect on what actually happens in the elections. Others just think politics are, put simply, a waste of time. But as I have written in these pages so often, we tend to focus way too much on national elections, particularly the presidential race. National offices are just a small part of what we vote on. The votes on items like referendums and local government officials are what, on a daily basis, affect us more than almost anything the president or a congressman can do to influence our lives.
Local elections are what affect our water systems, our roads, our schools, land issues, local taxes, etc. The list goes on and on.
This latest election is all local; there are no national candidates. Referendum one is the closest thing to being something that was on the ballot as far as having a national impact. People in other places are watching what happens here, because the voucher idea is a national one.
People in other countries would give their lives today to have the right to vote on their government.
And as Veterans Day approaches this next Sunday, we all need to remember that many brave men and women sacrificed their bodies and lives so we could continue to have the right to at least have some control over those that govern us. A lot of blood has been spilled since 1776 to protect that control.
Voting is a privilege we have been given and a right under our laws. But as Americans become and more cynical about voting, we must also remember it is also a responsibility.
It's one we shouldn't shirk.