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The art of voting

July 29, 2007|By Lloyd Waters

"Democracy," according to Winston Churchill, "is the worse form of government except for all those that have been tried." He must have been a little more than puzzled by democracy, when in 1945, after offering up his blood, toil, tears and sweat to save good ole England and the world, the voters of that nation promptly kicked him out of office.

Sounds a little more than goofy, doesn't it? Although I was not born at the time, it still irks me a little that voters can often be so dumb. What might our world look like today without the leadership of a Churchill?

I wonder if there really is a particular skill involved in voting. Is it an art form or some turkey shoot?

As we prepare for our own presidential election in 2008, the debates have begun in earnest, and in the barbershops, grocery stores, gas stations, offices at work and throughout the country side, voters and nonvoters alike are buzzing. I am wondering if the voter will apply any certain logic in selecting the next president of the United States.

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I am hearing many comments in various places on how people might cast their ballots. Some of them are very peculiar, but I know there must be a great deal of thinking and deliberation occurring in this process.

"I'm a registered Democrat and no way am I voting for any Republican candidate - just look at the mess we're in," said one voice. "Yeah, and I have been a Republican since before I was born, and there is no way I'm casting a vote for any Democrat, they don't have any values," said another. Where might you find cooperation and bipartisanship for the benefit of our country with these two ideas?

Have you been reading lately about the cooperation between both parties in those states of Ohio and Florida? For some odd reason the Democrats and Republicans are working very well together lately in these states for the benefit of their citizens. Now that's something very interesting. Is there a lesson here for our presidential candidates and voters as well?

"No way am I voting for a woman. The country's not ready for a woman president," is another voice I often hear.

Can't figure that one out exactly, since some of the guys on more than one occasion have really messed things up, and besides, Margaret Thatcher did pretty well in England, didn't she?

"I can't vote for a candidate who is Catholic. After all he'll be working for the Pope, won't he?" One of the kindest people I've ever known was Monsignor Joe Davies, a past priest of Saint Joseph's parish, and John F. Kennedy, as I recall, seemed like a decent president.

"I'm not voting for any Mormon either - they have more than one wife don't they? How smart can they be? One wife is more than enough!"

Voters really do their homework, don't they?

"I have never voted for a black candidate in my life and I'm not starting now. Who would want a Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton in the White House anyway?"

Maybe Barack Obama is not a Jackson or Sharpton. What is the real reason for not casting your vote for a candidate of a different race?

"If the candidates have no military experience, I'm not voting for them. What would they know about going to war? How would they know about the horrors, suffering and deaths of combat?"

"Yeah, and you have to be careful about those old candidates. There's a lot of work to be done as president and if I vote for the oldest candidate, he might not be up to the task".

Some of the wisest people I know are old. Does age really have to be a factor?

"I'm voting for the most handsome candidate - you know, the one that takes care of their hair and teeth. If they look good and take good care of their hair and teeth, don't you think they might take good care of our country? And your tax dollars?"

"I'm not even going to register to vote, 'cause I don't want to be picked for jury duty! Let someone else select the president."

"I'm not voting for anyone - God's going to work this out and my vote doesn't make a difference anyway".

Well, perhaps God will work it out, but just maybe democracy is something that he has given to you, along with your right to vote, so you might demonstrate your intellect and strive earnestly to make a good decision. Maybe he wants you involved so he doesn't have to do all the work for you.

"I'm voting for the best person, regardless of party. I try to find the best candidate to lead our country" is another response that can be heard.

Your vote and your future depend on every election that occurs in your lifetime if you live in America. Lincoln, Truman, Roosevelt and many others have already influenced and affected our lives in so many different ways.

Our next president will also impact your life in many ways, too.

In an old '60s song by Bob Dylan, he tells us that "the times, they are a changing." Politics and our society, even today, are changing too. We need a good leader more than ever to get us through these changes and problems.

Democracy is still the best form of government we have today, so give some serious thought before you cast your vote for our next leader. Listen to the debates, read the papers, gather as much information as you can and make a decision that is based on one's best logic and intellect verses a bias and behavior leaning toward something less than intellectual.

By the way, in 1951 the English voters returned Churchill to office, so I know that voters, given the opportunity to examine the issues closely, can often do the right thing. Maybe there really is an art to voting.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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