One of the benefits of having this extended period of time at home is that I get to be more of a news junkie than normal. I have watched with rapt attention the turmoil that Egypt is undergoing right now.
It makes me sad to see people in conflict and even sadder to see leaders who are so entrenched in their power that they can’t see clear to the greater good.
I admit I don’t know a lot about Hosni Mubarak except that he became president of Egypt following the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat. Mubarak was vice president at that time and subsequent “elections” were held in 1987, 1993 and 1995 – all without opposition. Elections in Egypt are held by the parliament which holds a majority of seats in Mubarak’s party. The state also controls the media and without the Internet would have probably had little trouble maintaining the status quo.
All of this is to say that the turmoil in the Middle East started me thinking about our upcoming election. Most of that thinking is about how very, very valuable our freedom to elect our leaders is. And how so few of us will participate in that exercise.
That we have endured a significant loss with the death of Rep. Cathy Harvin is an understatement at best.
Our state is in the midst of a crisis and suddenly, one half of our representation has been taken from us. That we elect the “right” person is crucial, sure, but that we all use our “voices” is even more important.
We have six men who are willing to put their lives on a significant hold to be our representative in Columbia. Will they have much of a voice in the General Assembly? Probably not, being the most junior in tenure there. But will they be able to represent us, the ones who put them there? Most definitely.
We are blessed with a participatory government. We get to elect our leaders and when we are displeased with their stances, actions or representation, we get to have another go at it – without violence or bloodshed. Without police action and teargas. Without bottles being thrown, stores being looted or our communication outlets shut down in an attempt to quell that displeasure.
Could we be any luckier or more blessed?
So how come less than half of us will take the very few minutes it will take to make our voices heard? I’m willing to bet that this single-issue primary, a likely runoff in one party and the subsequent general election will garner no more than 30 percent of the total registered voters in our county.
There are no excuses to not vote – zero. Absentee ballots are available for a phone call to the Voters Registration Office (435-8215). You can go there, in the basement of the Courthouse, and vote now. There are 16 reasons why you can vote as an absentee or early vote and I am willing to bet one of them fits your circumstances. I have already made my application to receive an absentee ballot via U.S. Mail and the whole process took less than two minutes, easily four times the time it will take to cast my vote and return the ballot by mail. There are NO excuses.
Please, please, please … if you prize being a free American with the benefits that brings, please cast your vote on Feb. 15, in the runoff (if necessary) on March 1, and the general election on April 5. You will be doing the most important thing an American ever does.
And don’t forget to pray for all the people of Egypt … they are facing an upheaval that will have broad and lasting effects. That is the power “not” having a vote wields.