This is the last column before the election, and, per the Pilot's long-standing tradition, this will not be a partisan column.
I will not be giving my opinion on whom you ought to vote for. Because really, folks, if you haven't figured out my stand on this by now, there's not a whole lot of hope that you ever will. So I will be at least mostly serious here and tell you that, whoever you are, and whomever you're backing, you really should get out there and vote, if you haven't done so already.
A recent letter to this paper asserted baldly that there is no constitutional right to vote in America. I have to tell you, that one brought me up short.
A lot of times, some of the things I read in the letters column of this paper cause me to shake my head in disbelief. A few have made me scare the pets with loud and occasionally profane commentary. But I have never before been so totally gobsmacked from anything in The Pilot as I was when I read that letter. So allow me for a moment to set the record straight.
The United States Constitution does indeed speak of a "right to vote." It's explicitly stated in the 15th Amendment, which states: "The rightof citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
The 19th Amendment says, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex," and the 24th Amendment says, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax."
The 26th Amendment provides that "The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age."
Anyone who tells you you don't have a right to vote under our Constitution is just flat wrong. Show them how wrong they are by going out and pulling that lever, or filling in that little oval, or whatever.
And I'm sorry, but I just don't buy the excuse that some people give for not voting, namely that "all the candidates are the same." Anyone who could say this in this election has obviously not been paying attention. Either that or they're just too lazy to inform themselves.
Similar to this lame excuse is the whine that "there aren't any good candidates to vote for."
Look, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate, one who agrees with you on everything. Widely different people hold a wide variety of positions, and you just have to decide which ones are going to be deal-breakers when it comes to a particular candidate and which ones you're willing to live with because you agree with him or her on your big core issues.
Finally, I hope I can restrain myself from going upside the head of the next ninny who tells me that "politics has nothing to do with my day-to-day life," but I'm not making any promises.
Fortunately, I'm hearing less and less of that, because you mostly hear it from young people. It's finally beginning to sink in for them that, with two wars going and the prospect of more, what their government does in the next few years could literally be a question of life or death for them.
Now that we've got that rant out of the way, do keep in mind a couple of things:
First, under our local system, if you vote straight ticket, Republican or Democrat, you have not yet cast a vote for president. The folks at the place where I went for early voting were pretty good about informing people of that little quirk, but it's a message that bears repeating.
Second, there have been reports of people who've voted on computer voting machines suddenly seeing their votes switched to another party or candidate.
Now, I've been skeptical of theories about voting machines being gimmicked by one party, and I have to say, if someone was planning to steal the election this way, I doubt that they'd have the machine switch right in front of the voter.
But the point is, be vigilant. Machines aren't perfect, and computerized ones even less so. If the machine screws up, say something about it. Politely, of course. If that doesn't work, raise hell.
See you at the polls. And God bless America.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage. And he will be really really glad when this election is over.