Responsible citizenship means voting

Thursday, October 9, 2008 | 12:30 p.m. CDT; updated 11:17 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The secret ballot is the primary means that enables citizens to control their government.

Liberal vs. conservative

"... If it is the necessity of the young to challenge and risk, it is the obligation of the old to conserve, not only for their own sake but for the sake of the young who at the moment want anything rather than conservation. No society is healthy without both the will to create anew and the will to save the best of the old. It is not the triumph of either tendency, but the constant, elastic tension between the two that should be called our great tradition. In this society we may confidently count on the will to change. It is one of the strengths of our civilization. ... What we have in somewhat smaller measure, perhaps in these years dangerously small measure, is the will to hold fast to what our parents and grandparents found good and workable. It is every bit as necessary as reform."

—Wallace E. Stegner, former president of Wisconsin University

Reminders for responsible citizens

American political parties are adversaries. One writer said, "Each one is trying to find faults with the other, and they both usually succeed."

Will voters recognize the difference between candidates being "politically correct" out of respect for the audience versus those who use "political correctness" to exaggerate or pander, leaving the voter wondering what the candidate's real stand is on an issue?

Actions by party activists may include: making mountains out of mole hills; raising the eyebrows at appropriate times to disdain the opponent's words; and exaggerations. On politics, Will Rogers said, "A radical is a feller on the other side."

Serious voters will probably read or hear the arguments pro and con seeking what is true and right. To weed the wheat from the chaff might take patience and some reading between the lines. Citizens who do not take time to listen to the news reports or read the newspapers may depend upon some trusted friend to help them decide how to vote.

The record:

  • If 50 percent vote for president — that is about tops.
  • If 26 percent vote to elect local officials — about average.
  • If 17 percent vote on a bond issue to build a new hospital — about average.

Responsible citizenship for all citizens equal before the law surely includes doing something to maintain democratic government. All need not be political activists.

Vote. Help prove that the majority can rule wisely.

George Parker is the author of "How to Win an Impossible Election." He writes nonpartisan political education items for the Pachyderm Foundation. He is also a member of the Republican Party. 

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