Why You Should Vote Tomorrow

Forget the crazy cast of characters campaigning and cast a ballot for democracy

The theme song of midterm elections 2010 should be Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead, especially the line “What a long strange trip its been.”

And now here we are at the end of that trip. This campaign featured the angriest Tea Party since Alice in Wonderland, complete with Queen Sarah Palin saying “off with their heads.” We had competing rallies in Washington, one by a conservative talk show host sponsored by Fox News and the other by a pair of comedians sponsored by Comedy Central. Lies and denials rose to a new level, and they were highlighted by the most bizarre array of political ads in history, including one that starred a demon sheep and another that started with a denial of witchcraft; after all of that, we are about to vote.

Candidates have spent billions trying to get us to the polls to vote for them or, more to the point, not to vote for the other guy. And the underlying theme is that candidates spent millions trying to win a job that pays a fraction of that with the promise that they will stop wasteful spending. And after all of those ads, the 24-hour cable news coverage, the robo-calls and the direct mailing. After this campaign that seemed more like Cirque de Soleil, with each character who takes the stage stranger than the last. [SIGNUP]

After all of that, most of us won’t vote. In a midterm election we haven’t gone higher than 40 percent since 1970. The last midterm, 2006, with an unpopular president and two wars going badly — only 38.8 percent showed up to the polls, and that was high.

Now compare that to the midterm elections in Iraq this year, where people sometimes have to travel miles to vote with the threat of violence on the way and when they got back home. Still, 62 percent cast ballots for a new parliament. The same is true for the former communist bloc countries where the majority of people turn out to vote.

It seems that when freedom is fresh and new, it is held as precious.

Modern democracy was born here in Philadelphia 234 years ago and has spread across the globe toppling despots and giving people hope. And yet here we take it for granted. Even as men and women continue to die fighting to keep us free, most of us don’t even bother to take part in the greatest gift of democracy: the idea that we the people choose our own leaders. They are not chosen by blood line or violence, but by our will. It is a miracle we chose to ignore. A miracle now held sacred by others.

The problem with democracy is that when you don’t practice it, you lose it. The country is run by an elite few rather than by the majority of the people. That is exactly what our founding fathers tried to avoid. So, if that is what you want, stay home. But if freedom is truly important to you, take part in the miracle and vote.

LARRY MENDTE writes for The Philly Post every Monday and Thursday. See his previous columns here. To watch his video commentaries, go to wpix.com.