This past summer during a trip to Washington, DC, I accepted an invitation to have lunch at the White House. Someone mentioned to me in passing that the White House, and more particularly the Oval Office, was the “Center of Democracy.” While I certainly understand the logic behind the statement, somehow it didn’t totally ring true in my own perception.
After some thought and pondering it dawned on me that if I had to label a place as the “Center of Democracy,” it would be the voting booth. As the presidential election approaches here in the United States, I fear that too many Americans may have overlooked the power of the polling place and the sacred privilege of voting.
Among civilized democratic countries, America ranks extremely low in voter participation. While Belgium, Turkey, Sweden, South Korea, Denmark, and Iceland all have between 80 and 90 percent of their citizens regularly turning out to vote, barely half of Americans bother to cast a ballot. I realize that the combative and confrontational nature of the current campaign causes many people to lose interest and even respect for the process. It is important to remember that democracy works because it is based upon “We the People.”
I’ve heard many people express the notion that they were disgusted with all the candidates and the campaign in general; therefore, they are not planning to vote at all. Even if you are forced to cast your ballot for the least objectionable candidate, I believe it is critical that we all participate in the process.
While there are many great democratic countries around the world, I’m convinced that America is still the last best hope for people everywhere who yearn to be free. Our country was based on the notion that there should not be taxation without representation. When people today don’t bother to vote for their representation, they lose the right to complain about taxation or any other function of government. We are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but when people don’t participate, the ideals of our way of life begin to fade away.
Dedicated and brave people from Valley Forge, through Omaha Beach, and to the current hot spots in the Middle East have risked and sacrificed everything so that you and I could express our free will within the voting booth. When they did so much, how can we do anything less than vote?
As you go through your day today, make plans, preparations, and a commitment to vote.
Today’s the day!
About the author: Jim Stovall is the president of the Tulsa based Narrative Television Network and published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.