Time to exercise our most basic responsibility as Americans

Ever since I’ve had a voice in print (and electronic posting counts too)I’ve made it a mainstay of my columns always to urge folks to go out and vote. I’ve done it as a columnist for the News of Orange in Hillsborough, as news editor for Citysearch.com – The Triangle (in my blog back in the day before the word “blog” had been invented)and as a lowly netizen of social media. Now as an even more lowly blogger with no audience (if you are reading this, you can help change that by passing along a URL or two), I make the plea again.

With my smallest audience ever, I would suggest to you that we are facing what – so far – may be the most significant polling in the history of our country. Never in our history have our divisions been so stark or severe, with the possible exception of the presidential election of 1860 when Abraham Lincoln was elected with only 40 percent of the vote, out polling three candidates from a fractured Democratic Party to become the first ever Republican president.

That election sparked the Civil War. Yes, that election might have been a bit more contentious than this one, but not by much.

There are many, including Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame and myself, who believe we already are deep inside a new “cold civil war” with the Trumpist faction (backed by the help of Russian trolling) is attempting to instill fully a fascist system where whatever the leader says goes and democracy is just another casualty of “fake news.”

Few who are not students of history know much about the 1860 election where Lincoln’s major challenger was Stephen Douglas of Illinois, one of three Democrats on the ballot. The name Stephen Douglas might be familiar to those who paid attention in History class because of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates where Lincoln, the former Whig now a member of the new Republican Party, argues that slavery should be contained, and Douglas, who argued that the question should be left to each territory to decide should they want to join the union.

Yes, here it was the Republicans who wanted government to control the decision while the leading Democrat was arguing for state’s rights. The main issue was race – in this case the enslavement of negroes. Strangely, we find ourselves today facing unresolved issues that have plagued our country from then to this day.

Usually I try to find an item, some fact from the news, to point out why it is so important to vote. There always are plenty of examples of people, and nations, that have to face tremendous hardships or challenges to vote or hold fair elections. With one party today trying as hard as it can to suppress voting by folks it doesn’t believe will support it, it vitally is important to go vote – while we are still allowed to.

The sacrifice of Major Brent Taylor

Maj.Brent Taylor

Don’t do it for me, don’t do it for any politician, don’t even do it for yourself. Do it for Maj. Brent Taylor. Taylor was a major in the Utah National Guard who served four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was so popular that he was elected mayor of North Ogden, Utah, while he was deployed overseas. I have no idea which party he represented. The last social media post he made before he was killed last week was to voice his support for our democratic system and to marvel at the 4 million Afghanis who braved violence and turmoil to vote in their elections.

He was murdered in an “insider” attack for a member of the Afghan national defense force, the second such attack in a month. He had seven children. He was killed in a foreign land advising the Afghan army how to build a nation where democracy could hold sway. He was killed by one of the people he had sought to help.

In this case, I do not care whether you support Donald Trump and his vision for America, or if you support, say, Bernie Sanders (you should -ed.), but Taylor’s sacrifice cries out for us to take on a burden also. That burden is to stand in line, maybe for a half hour or more, and vote.

It only seems fair.

They say early voting has been setting records in places all around our nation. I have seen at least three “I voted early” stickers lying in parking lots around Charlotte, others on folk’s shirts. Personally, I have been part of five opinion polls, turned down two others and gotten numerous robo calls from candidates. For once, people seem to be paying attention.

This is important, this is good.

There is only one more statement to be made about voting in the election tomorrow and, for once, it is not up to me to say it. Taylor summed it up better than I ever have in any of my “Go Vote” columns.

In the words of Major Brent Taylor, late the mayor of South Ogden, Utah:

“As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote. And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. … God Bless America.”

Now go vote your conscience.

Do it for Brent Taylor, major, Utah National Guard.

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