as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Thursday, February 25, 2016
By TOM HENRY
Wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles, how terrific it is to live in the “Land of the Free!”
You and I have much to be grateful for, most of the people on this planet do not enjoy the same freedoms that we do. If we want our grandchildren to be able to rejoice in those same benefits, we must do our part to ensure that we hand off those liberties to them, not just as a theoretical birthright, but as a manifested way of life.
That is a far more important, significant and valuable inheritance than mere property or family heirlooms!
This very column proves that in America there still exists, though less than at other times in our nation’s history, the right of free speech. Many of my news articles each month prove that freedom of the press still exists. Now, you and I voting on or before March 1 will prove that we still possess the right to choose our democratically elected representative government leaders.
President Thomas Jefferson once said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Historically, very seldom has great chunks of freedom been wrestled away from people. However, very frequently have numerous small, almost imperceptible, layers of liberty have been given away by the huddled masses in the name of safety, convenience, prosperity, national interest, etcetera.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the closest thing this country has ever had to a dictator, once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
The only recourse the American people have to correct and/or redirect the way our government leaders misrepresent us, is to FIRE THEM. That only happens through the ballot box. Angry letters don’t bother them too much. They don’t always agree to meet with you face to face in their offices when you ask. They control and manipulate the microphone at propagandized “town hall” meetings. And most of you are like me, too broke to be able to get their attention.
The only thing left to us is the ballot box. A large turnout that gives a clear mandate is the one thing that changes the direction our government fastest. Conversely, an anemic turnout with an indecisive result shows our elected leaders that we are “asleep at the wheel” and that they can continue to line their pockets, pillage the taxpayers and stroke their own egos at will.
In 2008, right here in Mississippi County, there were 22, 097 registered voters and only 26.91 percent of them (5,946 voters) actually bothered to vote. In 2012, it was even worse, there were 19,982 registered voters and only 4,010 people voted. That’s only 20.07 percent or one-in-five registered voters. Since the 2014 estimated population (as shown on census.gov) for Mississippi County was 44,235 people, that means that only 1 person in 11 county residents (man, woman and child) voted!! What is wrong with us?!?
While chronically complaining about how bad our government leaders are is a favorite pastime of Mississippi County residents, clearly doing something about it is not. Quite frankly, if you do not vote, you have no right to complain. In fact, if you regularly do not vote, you are part of the problem. Bad government counts on you not doing your job; you are precisely what they thrive on.
So, what are we to do? Each person of legal age should first make their way to the County Clerk’s office and make sure that they are registered to vote.
Once registered, they will be given all the information they need regarding where to vote. Then each of us must get informed on the issues and the candidates. For God’s sake do not just vote straight party line. It is impossible to think that every candidate for every race from any one party would be the perfect candidate to vote for! Once informed, for goodness sake, show up at the polling place and vote on Election Day (or during early voting).
If enough of us do this, then we can all sit back afterwards and enjoy watching our government return to sound, traditional, constitutional, American values and we can once again begin to reclaim our greatness!
However, if we continue to not vote…or if we continue to vote in weak numbers, but ill informed through only the lies of the propaganda sound bites we hear on television (which are paid for by billions of dollars from special interest and corporate interests), then we will continue to see our great nation decline and deteriorate into a second rate “Land of the Used to be Free.”
One last thought – Presidents are not like hairdos, hair color or popular fads. We cannot afford to be fickle or careless. Presidents have permanent and long lasting impacts upon our nation. Please do not vote for a candidate just because of some petty demographic, party, gender, race, slogan or sound bite. You have an obligation to make sure that they represent you accurately across a whole litany of issues.
It matters not if they have an R or a D next to their name, but it does matter whether they support the U.S. Constitution and your values. Arkansas, for the first time I’m aware of, will actually be relevant in the presidential primary process now that we have moved our primary date up to March 1. Now, go out…vote…and continue to be free!