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Get Out and Vote

The right to vote is a precious gift.

Many see it as an annoyance, a chore, something that’s akin to cleaning the leaves out of the gutters each fall. There are numerous things they’d rather be doing such as washing their hair. They would never admit this, but some haven’t done it for years and years.

But others view this activity as one of life’s peak experiences. Nothing gives them more joy, more pure, unadulterated ecstasy than going into that private little space and doing this extremely private deed.

How do I feel about this activity? Let’s just say that I’ve been doing it as often as possible ever since I became of legal age.

 I’m talking about voting, of course. 

Every citizen who is eligible to vote is morally obligated do so. If you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to complain. Imagine that the Dairy Queen offered you a free malt. They server asks which flavor you want, and you reply, “Whatever.” After being given a butterscotch malt, you immediately turn to the server and exclaim, “But I don’t like butterscotch! I wanted strawberry.”

NO! You are not allowed to complain! You had your chance and you didn’t say anything, so now you will just have to eat that butterscotch malt and keep your mouth shut! And enjoy it!

Say that you are vehemently opposed to butterscotch malts and think that strawberry malts are the best thing since they started putting stretchy elastic waistbands on sweatpants. You could donate money to the Strawberry Malt Alliance for Limitless Lusciousness (S.M.A.L.L.) or even volunteer to work for that organization, where you would undoubtedly meet other SMALL- minded individuals.

You could put up yard signs, knock on doors, hand out leaflets. You might even harangue total strangers about issues that you care about deeply while waiting in line at a fast food restaurant, which is what happened to me recently. I walked into the joint with the goal of filling my tummy and came away with an earful about the evils of a particular ballot proposition. I had never expected to associate that eatery with the word “proposition.”

The right to vote is a precious gift. It’s not something a person should simply choose to ignore like that one long, scraggly nose hair that you have that everyone can see but nobody wants to mention. Indeed, I knew several people who lived under a system of government that disenfranchised them for no good reason.        

Take my Grandma Nelson as an example. Grandma was born in 1896 and women weren’t granted suffrage until 1920. That means until she was 25 years old, Grandma was told, “Well, Mrs. Nelson, you certainly have many of the qualifications to cast a ballot. You’re a natural-born citizen and a lifelong resident of this state. But you were born with wrong plumbing, so the law says that you can’t vote.”

That’s basically the dunderheaded rationale which denied half of the citizenry (the smarter half, many would argue) the right to vote. Never mind that Grandma worked just as hard as any of the menfolk. Never mind that she paid taxes and that her flock of Leghorn chickens helped keep her family financially afloat. Wrong plumbing. Too bad.

Aside from safeguarding our rights, we need to use our votes to cut down on the level of nincompoopery that’s so prevalent nowadays. You know what I mean. I’m talking about those annoying TV ads that saturate the airwaves prior to each election, commercials that leave you feeling like you have just rolled around in a puddle of snail slime.

Casting a ballot is one small step toward controlling this airwave obnoxiousness. One vote may not make much difference, but at least you will feel like you have done your part in telling those bozos to cut it out or else we’ll cut them out.

Some years ago, the laws in our state were changed to allow early voting. My wife and I always vote early and thus avoid the long lines on Election Day. Plus, if nobody’s waiting behind you to use the voting booth, you have the luxury of time. When making tough decisions regarding which oval to blacken, you can consult your lucky quarter for as many flips as you like.

So, get out there and vote. If you don’t vote, you are ceding the power to decide what happens next to someone else, and you may not like the choices that they make for you. Choices that could involve such crucial issues as butterscotch.

And remember: There’s no rule against bringing your own personal lucky quarter with you into the privacy of the voting booth.

Jerry’s book, Dear County Agent Guy, is available at and in bookstores nationwide.

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