To not vote in this country is irresponsible

To the editor:

To vote or not to vote … is that really a question? Voting is a privilege in this country that far too many of us take for granted. We are blessed with so many opportunities to effect change at so many levels of our government: school, village, town, state, national. Sometimes we forget; sometimes it’s inconvenient; sometimes it may seem pointless. Sometimes some of us are simply too lazy to bother. But not voting is also a vote. Those who recognize this may call it a “protest vote,” as if someone somewhere cares. When challenged, some will use the cliched excuse that no candidate meets their high standards, as if someone somewhere cares. When challenged, some will invoke another time-worn excuse that the system is rigged, as if someone somewhere cares. But in reality, all a non-vote does is leave the responsibility for outcomes to those who do make the effort to vote.

To not vote in this country is irresponsible. Too many people around the world would — and do — die for the opportunity to vote. Too many people in this country suffer needlessly because too many of us don’t bother to vote. Too much of our tax money in this country is wasted because too many of us don’t bother to vote. I don’t have patience to listen to complaints from people who haven’t bothered to vote. And I certainly don’t lend any credibility to complaints from political candidates who have never bothered to vote themselves, who have never bothered to do the one concrete thing that actually helps determine the priorities and actions at any level of government. Shouting is bluster. Voting is action. To vote is the most basic responsibility — and hard-won privilege — that we have to actually create change.

John O’Neill

Saranac Lake

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