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Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018

SOME DON’T BELIEVE IN THE SYSTEM

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Are you one of them?

Maybe they don’t believe in the system. Or don’t think their vote will matter. Perhaps they don’t have the time or don’t like the long lines (although it takes less than 14 minutes to vote).

Or maybe they don’t know if they are registered to vote, or where to register (even though most anyone from most anywhere with access to a smartphone could remedy that in just moments). Or maybe they don’t like the candidates or the campaign issues (because 25 percent of the millions who didn’t vote in 2016 felt that way).

Perhaps they were just out of town, or it was too rainy/snowy/hot/cold outside to go vote (even though you can always just vote early, or if you qualify, request an absentee ballot and mail it in, just like the 23 million other Americans, civilian or military alike, that did that in 2016).

Whatever the reason for anyone not voting, it’s morally significant because the way we vote can help – or harm – people. We either encourage businesses to relocate to our community or cause them to leave. We can vote to improve the education of our children, increase their job opportunities, and thereby reduce the number of those living in poverty. Or we can spend millions of taxpayer dollars on waste, fraud and abuse – from a poorly managed police department and rising crime, to a water billing fiasco that reveals an administration nearly blind to the interests of its citizens, or so arrogant to think you won’t know the difference.

But not voting at all just contributes to the problems.

And yet, some of the most obsessive complainers and activists, who act like they know so much more than us, don’t even bother to vote themselves. Take Bernie Sanders, for example, the so-called “champion for the middle class.” He never voted in any election until he was 30 years old – and he says that was just so he could vote for himself!

Closer to home, there’s a candidate for Shreveport mayor, Adrian Perkins, who has not voted once in Shreveport or Caddo Parish. His first vote ever will be in next month’s election – when he, also, will vote for himself.

It begs the question of how any of us can be so vocal, and claim to be worried about the future of our city, if we never vote or participate in the electoral process in the first place. For some reason, I’m reminded of the saying, “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.”

And not voting smacks of elitism: You mean the issues facing our community haven’t been important enough for you to get out and vote, or even request an absentee ballot, but now you want people to get out and vote for you or your candidate, your tax renewal, or your “fill in the blank” ballot initiative of the day?

I don’t think so. That’s not fair. Many men and women worked hard – many gave their lives in combat – to provide us with our right to vote at 18 years of age. For anyone to purposely forfeit their input on tax rates, education, jobs, water and sewer services, economic development, public safety, government transparency, wage laws, pothole repairs, libraries, parks, bike paths and so much more, is disappointing, to say the very least.

Yes, of course, people may participate in politics in many other ways, besides voting. They can write their representative or senator, or work for a candidate or political party. They can make presentations to their local school board or city council, or write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

However, because we have a “government by the majority who participate,” as Thomas Jefferson so famously said, then we must do just that – participate. And that means voting.

The Bible teaches us that the failure to do something that one can, and ought to do, is sinful. James 4:17 reads, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

So whatever the weather, whoever are the candidates, whichever the issues – we have a duty to vote (and not just for ourselves).

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac. com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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