Vote

My father-in-law used to love arguing politics. On any typical Sunday, the Lions would be losing, 60 Minutes would start late and by the end of the first segment, he was telling me how screwed up things were. He was an equal-opportunity complainer. Whomever was in charge in the moment was “on the wrong track.”

I endured this until the day I asked him, “So, who did you vote for?”

“I didn’t,” he would mutter. “What’s the use?”

“In that case,” I said, “you don’t get to bitch about this stuff. I won’t argue with someone who won’t vote.

That quieted him down for a time. Inevitably, some news report set him off one weekend after an election. I asked if he had voted this time. He stunned me by saying, “Yes.”

I was proud of him.

I’m pretty sure we were canceling one another out, but I felt good that he was involved in the process again.

Reports of strong early voting in this election cycle give me hope for the always fragile miracle of democracy. Anyone claiming fraud without proof is admitting that their arguments about the issues don’t have enough power to convince a majority to support them in the voting booth.

When Dana Loesch, former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association said, “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate,” she ripped the scab off something we have always known. People will sacrifice anything for power and money. That’s what is behind Kanye’s blatant anti-semitism. It drives what we see on every TV channel. And it is the essence of every decision Elon Musk will make now that he owns Twitter.

And anyone who is in love with a news network or their favorite social echo chamber is wise to question their assumptions. All media has a point of view. Challenge it.

It depresses me that we are still at risk of losing hard won battles we fought for 50 years ago when I first voted in an election.

But echoes of Dr. King’s admonition that our rights are always at risk, and the warning, “Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it,” often attributed to the philosopher George Santayana, are reminders that the battle is never over.

Despots like Putin, Xi and Kim count on unquestioning, compliant masses who drink the poisoned Kool-Ade and bend to the self-aggrandizing few who share but one objective: staying in power, by any means.

When I volunteered for Barack in New Mexico, his philosophy was, “You can’t change minds, so make sure the like minded to vote.”

I avoid social media conflicts. But if I sense we share the same philosophy, you can bet I’ll be quietly checking in as Election Day approaches to encourage you to engage at the one venue where the rubber meets the road. The ballot box.