While rushing through the Atlanta airport Monday morning I glanced at the main headline on a copy of USA Today in the overpriced newsstand. It had to do with the eruption of gunfire at voting precincts in Ukraine. And yet people voted anyway.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
I remember the stories I heard about the first elections in Iraq, after the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled and people first had a voice in selecting the people who would lead their government. Some villagers had to walk three or four days to get to a voting precinct, where they stood in line for hours. Their only identification was a finger devoid of permanent ink, proving that they had not yet cast a ballot.
Once they did vote, their fingers were marked with that same ink, which put them in danger of death if they encountered the wrong people — people who wouldn’t appreciate them exercising their franchise.
And yet they voted.
Meanwhile, here at home, we have a primary election on the horizon. Early voting started over a week ago and the official Election Day is next Tuesday, and locally we will be staying home in droves. Why do you suppose that is?
I suppose we are simply too complacent. We have grown quite bored with the democratic process. We have turned our national government over to a gang of corrupt millionaires who seek primarily to line their own pockets. Serving the people is an antiquated idea and none of us trusts any of the people we have put in office — and if we do, man are we naive!
But what about the local elections? What about the non-partisan races that appear on both Republican and Democratic primary ballots?
For two years I have heard people in my community gripe and complain about how the local elections of 2012 turned out. You have heard them, too, if you have been paying attention. Some races were decided by razor thin margins, and yet 25 percent of the registered voters in Rockdale County — that is about 13,000 people — didn’t bother to cast a ballot.
That number — 13,000 people — could have changed the outcome of every race run in Rockdale County — for better or for worse. And that was in a presidential year — in a general election — when voting is traditionally higher than any other contest.
For next Tuesday’s primary election I have read that the projected turnout is 20 percent That is abysmal and we, as a people, ought to be ashamed of ourselves.
“It is just a primary.”
“I don’t know any of the people who are running anyway.”
“My one vote won’t make a difference.”
Those and other lies people tell themselves to feel better about neglecting their civic duty don’t do anything but weaken our republic — from the ground up. We will be selecting candidates, next week, for governor, U.S. senator, state school superintendent, county commissioner, U.S. representative, local school board, and a plethora of other positions. These people will make huge decisions that will affect our children, our finances, our quality of life and our posterity — and 80 percent of us are willing to sit on our rear ends at the house and let somebody else make those decisions for us.
No wonder our government is in a shambles and our society is digressing at such a rapid rate. We deserve the government we get in America because we have chosen our own leaders for the past 227 years and now 80 percent think it is just too much trouble to exercise the right that 850,000 American soldiers have purchased with their lives.
It’s just a primary? Look the word up. It means “of chief importance.”
Don’t know who is running anyway? The Rockdale Board of Elections maintains an excellent website. Go to rockdalecounty.org and follow the links. You can see sample ballots for the Democratic and Republican primaries as well as the non-partisan races. Or you can just call me and I will tell you who to vote for — just like they do it in Russia.
My one vote won’t make a difference? Oh, yes it will. Indeed it will.
Go vote. And if you don’t, I don’t want to hear a word of complaint out of you for the next two years. Not one!
Editor’s note: Darrell Huckaby will be presenting the third installment of “A Southern Man Looks at the book of Luke” Thursday, May 15 at noon at Conyers First United Methodist Church on Main Street.