In the most important “branch” of our government, well more than half of those responsible for governing will not show up for work next Tuesday. In our government “for the people and by the people” most people are not getting the job done. Most people don’t vote.
George Jean Nathan, a prominent journalist and drama critic in the early 20th century said, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” Nathan was a smart guy. His point was a good one, but I think his sarcasm was too generous. One can’t be a “good citizen” if one does not vote.
You can be a “good person”, someone who loves and takes care of their family, pays their taxes and follows the golden rule, etc, but you can’t be a “good citizen” if you don’t vote. Voting is the most important responsibility and the only power that the average citizen has.
Throughout our nation’s history our troops and citizens have fought and died for the average person’s right to vote. At the founding of our country, Negroes didn’t have the right to vote. They weren’t even considered fully human, determined to be property in some states and only 3/5 human by the US Constitution. It wasn’t until after a civil war that African Americans were given the right to vote. It wasn’t until 1920 that women were given the right to vote. Recently in Iraq we witnessed men and women risking their lives to exercise the right and responsibility of voting that our troops fought to give them. There is a New Jersey constitutional amendment on the ballot next Tuesday that if passed will give “idiots” the right to vote.
Now that most people have the right to vote, most people aren’t doing it. Idiots.
Who would surrender 30% or more of their income to the government and then not exercise their right to select the people who determine who gets to spend that money? An idiot. Who would obey laws but not exercise their right to determine who writes and enforces those laws? An idiot.
The first time I ran for office a reporter asked me if I had any government experience. “Yes, I vote,” was my response. The reporter scoffed at me as if that didn’t count. She was an idiot.
If you’re reading this column, you’re probably a voter. You’re also probably still part of the problem. I’ll bet you encourage or maybe even nag friends and loved ones to stop idiotic behavior. You’ll encourage a family member to stop smoking and discourage them from driving drunk. You’ll encourage them to exercise, eat right and pay their bills on time. You might have even come up with an acceptable answer to the question “Does this outfit make me look fat?” Yet you don’t encourage the idiots you love to vote. That makes you an idiot too.
State Senator Joseph Kyrillos recently said, “New Jersey’s government is broken and we need a revolution.” He’s right, but there will be no revolution until the idiots start voting.
Next Tuesday the entire New Jersey legislature and many other county and municipal offices are up for grabs. What happens next Tuesday will affect the quality of your life. Don’t be an idiot. Vote and encourage everyone you know to vote.
Originally published in The Courier, November 1, 2007