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If you don't vote, don't complain

Posted: July 24, 2012 - 11:03pm

On Tuesday, it will be time for the polls to open again. This column is to beg you all to go and vote for the candidates of your choice.

It always saddens me to hear that only 50 percent or fewer of the American population go to the polls. This is a right we all have to speak our minds. If you don’t like the way our government is being run, then let them know. If you’re satisfied with how things are going, you need to let them know that, too.

How can we, as a democracy, not take advantage of this opportunity? Do you have any idea how many people in other countries throughout the world would give anything for this right? Do you have any idea what it’s like to be told what to do with your life, to have the government threaten your life if you don’t comply with what they expect from their people, to have entire races executed because of the color of their skin or their religious beliefs, or to have young men brought up to fight against those who their dictator hates?

I can hear what some of you are thinking right now: “Isn’t that what our government is doing to us now? Aren’t they telling us what to do?” or “I already feel discriminated against, so what’s the difference between us and other countries?”

I’ll tell you what the difference is. You have the power to change that, if it’s truly what you think is going on in Washington. Don’t ever think that your vote isn’t important. Don’t ever think that just one vote could never change an election, because it can.

I find myself in political discussions all the time and, usually, the first thing I ask whomever I’m talking to is, “You are a registered voter, aren’t you?” It might seem crude, but if the answer is no, most of the time I don’t feel it worthwhile to argue with them. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain about the way our country is run. If you do vote and it doesn’t go the way you’d like, suck it up and do whatever you can. Call your congressman if you believe his actions are irresponsible. Write your senator if you think he’s not speaking up for your rights as much as he should. One voice can lead to another and another and another. Stick to your beliefs.

Nobody’s perfect, especially politicians. But if you don’t let them know what you expect out of them, how are they to know which way to vote? How are they to know that you, as one of their constituents, are unhappy with the way your government is run?

(Pat Fickle is a Martinez resident.)

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