Voting: The essence and responsibility of Democracy

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, House of Commons, 11 November 1947

Churchill’s famous (if not original) words have often been in my mind, as I watch our country descend into political chaos.

Our Democracy is not perfect. Vivid recent reminders: We democratically elected a president and Congress who seem intent in ignoring the devastatingly serious dangers of climate change; who have forgotten that the Judicial branch of government should not be partisan; who have failed to protect, and even went as far as mocking to cheers of an adoring crowd, a civically minded woman for bravely disclosing being sexual assaulted. And this is just a sliver of the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

While not perfect, Democracy has the fundamental virtue that we can choose who represents us. Furthermore, we are not locked on our choice forever: We get periodic re-dos.

The next opportunity to vote carries an unusual responsibility. One that is not consistent with absenteeism. We might well be choosing between democratic governance and some form of what Churchill called “all the others.” Between the Earth’s sustainability and a quick, continued evolution towards a point of no return for climate and humanity. Between civility and divisive intolerance.

My choice is clear: On November 6, I will vote to terminate the Republican majority in Congress. In most states and districts, I believe that the choice for a return to normalcy is voting Democrat. Even if, as is my case, you would ultimately prefer a multi-party system to the existing red-and-blue alternation of power. Or if you are a moderate Republican. Or if politics is usually just not interesting to you.

Whatever your choice, though, please get registered, get informed, and vote. That is the essence and responsibility of living in a Democracy.

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