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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014

Exercise your right to vote on Tuesday

Posted Friday, October 31, 2008, at 3:46 PM

Decision Day 2008 is almost upon us.

I am sure we are all pleased that the endless stream of television and radio commercials for the presidential, congressional and state candidates is almost over.

Tuesday is Election Day and the nation's registered voters will go to polls to make some very important decisions.

As Election Day approaches I'm always reminded of my senior year in high school -- 1971 -- the year the 26th U.S. Constitutional Amendment became law.

I was in the first class of 18-year-olds who were given the right to vote.

The 26th Amendment reads:

"The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age."

It was a municipal election the first time I voted. But the following year 1972 was the first year I had a chance to cast my ballot for a president. It was a big deal.

Republican Richard Nixon was seeking re-election to a second term and he was matched up against Democrat George McGovern.

Nixon won handily with 520 Electoral College votes to just 17 for McGovern.

However, we all know how the Nixon presidency turned out in disgrace and resignation so my first vote in a presidential race was probably not a very good one.

I supported the GOP candidate, much to the displeasure of my dear Uncle Irvin -- who was as die-hard of a Democrat as you would ever meet.

My uncle never let me forget that I voted for Nixon or "Tricky Dick" as he liked to call him.

I recall some other wise advise I received from my Uncle Irvin as I prepared to go to the polls the first time back in my hometown of Tell City in 1971.

He said, "Always vote or you really don't have any reason to complain about the way things are going in government."

I was also told not to be bashful about as he said "voting out the rascals."

Meaning, if I didn't like the way those already in office were handling things, vote them out and get someone qualified, who shared my views in the offices.

I've always tried to look hard at all incumbents to make sure they have done what they have pledged or promised to do.

As this election day is coming, I've done the same thing and I can tell you some at the Congressional level and on the local level here in Greene County won't be getting my vote.

My uncle knew and believed that elected officials worked for him -- even though he toiled as a mechanic to make ends meet for more than 50 years. When that trust was betrayed by their voting records, he always said vote them out.

I remember from an early age spending hours at a small table in my uncle's kitchen talking politics, looking over newspaper articles and paging through magazines that he had saved for me. He loved politics and enjoyed talking about the events in Washington D.C. and Indianapolis.

My uncle often reminded me that those of his own generation had fought in foreign wars to preserve our freedoms, liberties and democracy. And now my generation of 18-year-olds in the early 1970s was given the right to select those who govern. He considered it a personal duty to vote and I would venture to say, he never missed a chance to voice his opinion at the ballot box his entire life.

Uncle Irvin is gone now, but the advice he gave me has stuck with me all these years.

He taught me it was important for everyone to vote every election -- Democrats, Republicans, Independents and those supporting "third part" candidates.

We've heard a lot of talk from the presidential candidates this year about this being "the most important election of a lifetime."

I would disagree.

All elections are important.

Your vote holds your local and national leaders accountable for the decisions they make.

Your vote sends a message about the issues you think are important.

Your vote affirms our rights as free citizens to elect our government and take part in democracy.

Without voting, there could be no democracy.

The decisions you make Tuesday will have global consequences in the case of our selection of a president and vice president.

We will be picking an entire slate of U.S. Congress members and in the state of Indiana we'll be choosing a governor and all our state representatives.

Locally, we will pick a Superior Court Judge, county treasurer, county surveyor, two county commissioners and three county council members.

In his memorable Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln called democracy "government of the people, by the people and for the people."

That means that we are not here to serve our government.

Our government is here to serve us.

Too many times those seeking office forget that. The ballot box is the place to make our voice heard.

We have the right to decide who will represent us and how we want to be represented.

It means that each one of us has one of the greatest rights any free people can have -- the right to vote.

Please exercise that right on Tuesday.

Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at schneider.nick@gmail.com or nschneider@gcdailyworld.com

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