• Last modified 931 days ago (Nov. 2, 2016)


Do we have to?

There’s mounting evidence to support the notion that this old news editor is barreling down the path of becoming a grumpy old man, at least as far as elections are concerned.

I’m shocked that my home computer monitor hasn’t melted from the fiery tirades I hurled at it as I agonized while live-streaming the presidential debates. Debates? They’re nothing of the sort. Nothing of substance came out of the hours of snarling and one-upsmanship except the need to reach for a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

It’s hardly better at the state level, where “Brownback this, Brownback that” echoes through the airwaves, and it’s more popular to run against the embattled governor than one’s actual opponent. Reversing Brownback isn’t a solution to the problems that lie ahead of us, not behind us.

I’ve always been jaded about voting for judges. How can I pass judgment on people who are interpreting the complexities of law that leave me baffled and bawling when I try to comprehend them? What do I do? Vote not to retain one because they didn’t iron their robe?

I grew up immersed in politics, in a good way. From family to professors to public officials, my first 25 years were filled with good and interesting examples of public servants and encouragement to study the issues and advocate for my beliefs.

I was the black sheep of the Colburn family, a liberal among conservatives, but I never hesitated to vote for a candidate that best shared my beliefs, whatever their political affiliation.

Ah, yes, the good old days. Grumpy old man may be getting closer than I realized.

Now that it’s almost time to vote, I’m ready to scream at the top of my lungs, “Do I have to?”

The answer, of course, is no. It’s my choice. If I want to abstain, I can.

Unfortunately, too many Americans make that choice. We proclaim ourselves the world’s beacon of democracy, but voter participation is higher in Mexico that it is here. It’s higher in 26 other countries than it is here.

There are plenty of straw men at which to aim blame: Divisive politics, biased news channels, and social media are among the most popular.

In the end, though, it all comes down to personal responsibility.

If we’re going to be the world’s greatest democracy, it’s our responsibility to exercise our right to vote. Yes, we can opt out, but we shouldn’t. In the long run, abdicating that responsibility hurts us all by undermining the very fabric of our governance system.

Democracy is about participation. Without participation, no democracy. End of story. End of U.S.

I’m not excited to go to the polls this year, but I will. Before I go, I’ll study something more than the latest lying memes on the Internet. If I’m going to vote, I want it to be an informed choice. That’s what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they set this whole thing up. Informed.

I hope most of you will make the same choice. Voting is the most basic of American rights.

— david colburn

Last modified Nov. 2, 2016