>Western Tribune Column October 29 2008

>Here is my column from this week’s Western Tribune. Notice that I took the high road, note that the Paper itself did not, printing an endorsement and letters for John McCain that resort to the same old lies we have heard for a year. More about that later. Here’s the column.

Voting a privilege not to be taken lightly

The most memorable post presidential election photo has to be the black and white picture of Harry Truman holding up the Chicago Daily Tribune with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

Every underdog since has probably referred to that election and that outcome.

The most controversial election outcome has to be Bush vs. Gore in 2000, which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court deciding the outcome. We are still not over that.

But controversy goes back much further, to 1796, when John Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson. The candidates remained fairly civil, but their surrogates fought for them in nasty ways. Adams was accused of being too close to Britain’s monarchy. Jefferson was attacked for his views on religion. Adams was “aloof.” Jefferson was too close to France and its revolutions.

We still have candidates accusing one another of being elite and being too close to France, or having ties to odd religion.

Has nothing changed in over 200 years?

Not really. But since that election, we have had significant changes in who votes. Wyoming led the movement to grant women the vote, allowing voting rights in 1869, and the nation followed suit in 1920, with the Nineteenth Amendment.

The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were supposed to give voting rights to men regardless of race, but not until the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed were Blacks across the nation able to register, and now voter suppression attempts still target people of color.

This year, the candidacy of Barack Obama has inspired millions of young people who as a group historically have not voted in large numbers but are expected to turn out. Early voting in various states indicates a massive voter turnout. In 2004, 122 million people voted. Regardless of who wins, this election will be historical in the number of voters who participate.

In just a few days you will have the opportunity to take part in this historical election. It is a privilege that should not be taken lightly or ignored. Even if you see Barack Obama or John McCain at your door on Halloween, let it serve as a reminder to vote on Tuesday.

And let’s hope, for the sake of our country, that the discourse on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning is civil. The problems of our country are too great for the winner not to receive the support of all of us.

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