If you haven’t heard it before, I’d suggest giving “To Beat the Devil” by Kris Kristofferson a listen.
It’s a deep cut, not one of his more well known songs. In it, the master songwriter wonders if anyone is listening to the words he is singing. But he’s going to keep on singing and writing. It’s what he has to do, “And I guess I’ll die explaining how/
The things that they complain about/
Are things they could be changing.”
So here’s my chance to beat the devil. I’ve written it before. And I don’t know if I will change any minds this time, but I’ll write it again. Exercising our right to vote is critical for the survival of our republic.
According to the state of Indiana, voter turnout for the general election in 2018, the last midterm election, was only 51% of registered voters. This is at a time when voting has become more convenient. Early voting, satellite voting centers, and mail-in ballots are great options that have made voting easier for our busy lives.
The weight of history compels me to vote. Millions of people have sacrificed so much for us to have that right. Some gave everything. They died in faraway places like the beaches of Normandy, on the high seas of the Pacific, and in the snows of the Chosin Reservoir. Others died much closer to home — places like Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Selma, Alabama, and Philadelphia, Mississippi, while fighting for our rights to vote. Throughout our history, millions of Americans have endured threats, economic hardships, and violence while trying to register or to vote. The least I can do is take a few minutes—less time than it takes to order a cup of coffee—to commemorate that sacrifice.
By voting, we honor and celebrate those who sacrificed for our rights. Voting is a far more powerful way to remember and express our gratitude than fireworks or parades.
It is the duty of a citizen to vote. As citizens, we have rights. But we also have obligations. That includes paying my taxes, serving on jury duty when called, obeying the law, and registering for the draft. I consider voting as one of those obligations. That is the part I play in our system.
One of the reasons given frequently for not voting is that people are not happy with the choices or maybe the lack of choices. They’re not entirely happy with either political party. Not many of us are. Then vote for a third party. Show the parties or candidates you want other choices.
Another reason people give for not voting is that they think it doesn’t make a difference. There have been numerous races, including some locally, that have come down to just a handful of votes or even a single vote.
There are billions of people around the world who wish they could vote. There are no fair or free elections in Russia, Iran, or North Korea. Activists in those countries are fighting for that right. They risk torture, imprisonment and death advocating for a right we already have.
When you don’t vote, you are ceding your voice about our government to those who do vote.
And there are plenty of people out there who are glad you don’t vote. They don’t have to worry about addressing your concerns or working on the issues that are important to you.
There, I’ve said it again. I’ve made the argument again. Even if no one listens, I’m going to keep making it. Voting begins Wednesday at NexusPark. Election day is Nov. 8th.
Aaron Miller is one of The Republic’s community columnists and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. He has a doctorate in history and is an associate professor of history at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus. Send comments to [email protected]