WORDS: 2,223 —  So many have sacrificed their health, their futures, and their lives to keep our right to vote.  We’ve heard it all before… we celebrate it on holidays like Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day… they gave their patriotic duty to uphold and defend the freedoms we tend to take for granted every day.  Maybe it’s time for average Americans, John & Jane Doe, to step up and contribute to this idea of patriotism, that the Right Wing thinks is all about them and them alone.

Our country has some real challenges ahead given the seemingly endless list of domestic and international events and results of events, manmade and otherwise, in the last six-plus years… and there’s no immediate end in sight.  Much like the rest of the world, we are all in for some difficult and very unknown times ahead.  In the end all any of us can do is try and take care of the things we CAN do with what we have that can affect some level of change.  We work, we go home to family, we support the family… using what we have to maintain some level of social and economic status quo.  The one thing that can’t be taxed, it can’t be mandated away, surrendered to a high power, legislated away, or denied to any American.. and that’s our right to VOTE, guaranteed by our Constitution.  But is it “just” a right, or might it be something greater… like maybe acknowledgement to those who have defended, and will defend that right?

Seems to me the simplest thing any American can do , the easiest way someone can exercise their patriotic “duty”, is go out and vote. Let’s not talk about the typical election turnout because those disappointing numbers are reported in the media often and it really means nothing to the average American anyway… other than being a moral embarrassment of American democracy.  But we are in a political turmoil not experienced since the years up to and including the Civil War.  This turmoil is a national divide where an opposing side favors weaponizing the Constitution, using that cherished document to push forward by uncompromising, authoritarian means changes that affect our ability to remove any convenience to vote, as well as who decides how votes are counted.  The people who gave you the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol are still out there.. and inside that building… and inside your statehouses, trying to affect your ability to vote, in order for their minority idealism to take charge and create a social structure more accommodating to their whims than to the Constitution.

Now, let’s be clear here.  Freedom of speech and freedom of expression and freedom of democratic representation are hallmarks of democracy.  Regardless of how objectionable someone’s ideals and opinions may be (taking into consideration of what might be violations of hate rhetoric toward a race or religion), as freedom-loving Americans we should all acknowledge a voice.. and a vote… to everyone and anyone who feels their opinion needs attention in the halls of political power.  They should petition their government for redress if necessary and demonstrate peaceably to make their point and gain public support for their cause.  In Congress we debate and compromise when able.  We don’t have to love each other but we are all Americans.

But asserting an opinion/belief in such a way that does not encompass the ability to compromise, rather fomenting the idea of imposing one’s collective will by force of law in order for a minority to dominate the majority, to me, is not about America at all.  The rising crescendo of political hatred coming from the Trumpian GOP being expressed as open distrust and suspicion of government, its legitimately elected leaders, and its institutions, the polarity of social status and education, and the economic disparity is feeding this movement of “insurrectionist fever” with many.  The events of Jan. 6th didn’t work for them so it has filtered down to the individual state legislatures to make their own voting restriction laws.  As for Congress itself, there’s the “palace guard” in the Senate that will oppose any federal attempt to legislate universal voting reforms that DON’T favor the restricting of votes under the guise of fighting potential fraud.

To any following the news there’s been much media coverage on the  hundreds of laws passed in state legislatures across the land… Republican state legislatures… reflecting changes in voting processes in order to challenge both the convenience of voting to setting up of “specially” appointed people to not only verify counts, but also have the authority to actually change vote counts by refusing count certifications if they feel counts are suspicious for fraud.  In Florida the GOP is so afraid of people voting they’ve come up with a special voting police force… at taxpayer expense.  Following the most secure voter count in recent history, 2020, many court cases, court challenges, civil suits of accusations of voter fraud levied by the Right, all determined no widespread fraud.  Yet the Right continues to this day making accusations that the election was stolen in order to justify anti-voter legislation.  Jan. 6th might have a repeat down the line… this year.. surely in 2024.

So, here’s a thought… BECOME A VOTING PATRIOT!

Let them put up all the barriers they want to keep you from letting your vote count.  If there’s new crazy residency issues… start now to fix it.  If there’s new registration parameters that need to be fixed… start now to register.  Don’t wait until you show up in line on voting day and suddenly you are somehow disqualified from voting.  Most if not all states have some level of online check to see if you are registered.. still registered… or are unregistered.  Also check to see if your party affiliation is accurate, or change it as necessary.  My point.. do a little bit to protect yourself AND your vote, at least for the next two election cycles.  If you opted for absentee ballot.. make darn sure you still fall into that category.  Check with your state to know the dates they sent those ballots out so you can time their arrival in your mailbox.  If you don’t receive it in the time expected.. get in touch with the election people or your state’s Secretary of State office.  Get help with this from family or friends.. BUT… make sure you are the one who opens it and you are the one bringing it to the proper deposit location.  Get in touch with your election officials to determine how involved friends and/or family can be in  assisting you to vote because many states have created crazy laws to confuse that issue of getting voting assistance.  The key to all this… get on top of this NOW.. don’t wait.  It’s YOUR vote.  If there are mandatory deadlines to make things hard for you.. get to know them all NOW.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO VISIT YOUR POLLING PLACE…. then get all of that information now or as soon as your state publishes that to the public.  Maybe with neighbors and family get together to go over any new rules and times for showing up at the polling place.  There are some sneaky new reforms in some states to regulate you standing in line, what you can carry with you, who can approach you and hand you anything… all of that meant to distract and discourage you standing out in the elements waiting to vote.  Remember this.. THAT is a small sacrifice to the sacrifice others made so you can stand in line.. in the damn rain… to cast your vote as an American.  Come prepared for the weather you expect.  If you have doubts about standing there for hours on end.. then go try and get an absentee ballot… but in doing so go back and re-read those things I mentioned in the last paragraph.  Hoping for good weather and finding out the day before that it’s going to rain on Election Day, is no time to change your mind about going.

Regarding many of the states who had certain voting laws in place to allow for more equal access to voting resources, polling locations, and similar accommodations based on economic disadvantaged areas… and now had those laws changed with new legislation.  I believe much of those efforts to improve access were for rural economically depressed minority areas, and Native American reservations, many also needing absentee ballots.. and locations for ballot drop boxes, etc.  I certainly appreciate accommodating those folks and I don’t personally see it as any sort of wide potential for voter fraud as long as proper security monitoring remains in the loop.  But… many of those areas are now under different voting rules.  Many of those folks have real challenges in traveling to vote.  Yet with that we seem to have a couple choices.  Draw a bit of courage and patriotic inspiration to refuse to succumb to these draconian voting laws.. or fall back into a futile complacency.  A part of me hopes that folks become inspired enough to simply do their best to “suck it up” and work now to arrange their travel to vote.. or do what it takes to get an absentee ballot.  Some of us Americans will indeed make a greater sacrifice simply to find a way to cast their vote.  But the advantage is to plan well in advance.  I don’t pretend to know all the hardships some voting Americans might incur in going to vote.  But I do know how determined Americans CAN BE when mustering up their sense of patriotism.

What about all those shifted polling hours one can go vote?  I have a solution…

Just Take The Damn Day Off!

Don’t wait for the federal government to legislate a paid day off so you can have another backyard BBQ party.  Just do it because you’re supposed to be an American.  Maybe this will take hold.. a national work moratorium for patriotism day.  I don’t care how economically desperate you are… if you are working you can afford to take the day off given those before you since the founding of the country have died so you can go to work in a free country.  Just watch the news.. tell me a better time in history where we should exercise are right to vote.  There are people in this country who don’t want YOU to vote.  Ask yourself, why is that?

You need help getting to the polling place… then get it together now.  Your right to vote is not a “blow off” day.  “I’m a single mom with ten kids at home.. I can’t miss a day of work!  I need the money!”  You mean, out of 365 days in a year… or even 730 days between elections… you can’t budget or compute logistics for one day, a few hours, to simply cast your vote.. hopefully affecting the future of your children in some way?

Okay.. so you don’t legitimately wish to exercise your right to vote for your own political reasons.  That’s fine.  It’s a “right” to vote, and maybe by extension a “moral obligation” of sorts… but it’s not a requirement,  Just make sure it’s not just a “blow off” reason…. because anything less is a lie to those who died for you to be able to exercise that right.  But if you still have doubts… just look at what’s happened in Ukraine in the last 60 days.  A once gorgeous and growing democracy; a thriving economy.  Have you been watching those drone videos scanning the utter destruction?  The bodies in the streets?  The horror stories of the survivors?  I don’t know about you, but I am sitting here wondering… “Holy crap.. this can happen in 2022?”  No… I’m not going to suggest America could be like this in four years if you don’t vote.  What I am suggesting is that we should never get complacent about the world around us nor take for granted the country we live in is going to continue on the inertia of our past democracy alone.  Change is inevitable… and here we have a vote to make change rather than change making us.

The only way we can collectively unite to fight against those in this country who want to rule by circumventing the Constitution to gain an authoritarian advantage over others who have enemy lists and desires for vengeance and retribution against fellow Americans who don’t see things their way…. is to just plain go out and vote.  We can save the dream that IS America if we exercise the one thing that makes us American… the ballot box.

I served my country in the military.. and took the oath… in essence to serve, protect and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic.  That oath didn’t end on my day of military separation.  I’m a senior citizen now.  If I’m the one next to you in that line at the polling place in the rain… I’d be happy to share my umbrella with you… or maybe a spare baseball cap… and maybe even defy social distancing and shake your hand.  But my age being what it is, if the Almighty wishes that day and time to take me.. better it be defending my country in that way.  I will have died a voting patriot (although I prefer He wait until I exit the polling place).

Complacentiam Inducit Tyrannidem

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