Why vote?

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duane highley

By Duane Highley, president and chief executive officer Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.

I’ve heard from many of you this past month who are disgusted with our political process. You are tired of the misleading ads, the campaign rhetoric, the back-handed compliments, the back-stabbing tactics and the October surprises. Many of you have said, “I’m not voting for anyone this year, I’m staying home.”

Don’t make that mistake.

So, why vote? Why not stay home? Why not check “none of the above?” Well, I’ve thought of a few reasons:

  • Because middle America is losing its voice, especially among middle-class rural voters.
  • Because if you don’t, you are letting others decide. You should not be allowed to complain about the process or its results if you didn’t participate!
  • Because it is your patriotic duty to make a decision. If no one votes, we don’t have a democracy anymore.
  • Because you have to send a message to our politicians about what is important to you.
  • Because this is a way to balance the power. Do you think special interests have too much influence? Then don’t stay home. If you do, you’re turning this election over to them.
  • Because giving up is the easy thing to do. That’s what your opponents want. If you stay home, a bad system wins. Getting out and making a decision is hard, but that’s your JOB as a voter.
  • Because you might inspire a young person to have faith in our political process.

You may feel that the choices are poor this year, but you know what? The choices are never perfect. There is no perfect human being, so use your God-given intellect and pick the candidate that has the best shot at making things better. After all, there are big differences between the candidates’ positions. You could say the differences are “huge.”

In the presidential race, the winning candidate will appoint Supreme Court justices who will serve for life, influencing our laws for decades. Your vote could impact your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And the best reason to vote this election year? Because someone died for you so that you could. Actually, it was a lot of someones. Just after this election, on Nov. 11, we will celebrate Veterans Day, an almost-forgotten holiday in today’s world. Our veterans and their families sacrificed to preserve your right to vote. From the Revolutionary War to the great world wars to today’s constant terrorism and cyber war, our enemies in this world hate democracy. Your vote can show them that our political system is alive and well, and that their efforts to derail our government are not succeeding.

As we end this month we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday recognizing some of the first immigrants who came to America, the New World, hoping for religious freedom and seeking to establish a grand experiment in self-rule. In the first federal recognition of Thanksgiving in 1789, President George Washington declared that there be “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

I am thankful that we enjoy so many freedoms, so many we can’t count them. I am thankful that, despite the ugliness of it all, we have the chance to cast our votes, to make our voices heard and to do our part to appoint leaders to this country that will move it in a better direction. And, once they are elected, I am thankful that we can speak out and let those elected officials know when we approve and when we disapprove of their actions. With all its many flaws, our political process remains the greatest in the world. Your vote can help to keep it that way.

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