Do vote . . .

Ellen Kirvin Dudis

November 05, 1990|By Ellen Kirvin Dudis

THE STAR-SPANGLED banner was desecrated materially and musically last summer. Flags were burned, and then the national anthem was mocked in a tasteless singing.

But there is a far more offensive and far more common national desecration. Not voting seems to me a greater affront to the republic for which a banner and song stand. Yet has anyone suggested a law to make voting compulsory? Imagine the outcry!

Back in the colorless '50s, when I was in eighth grade, I wrotean essay in favor of lowering the voting age to 18. I labored for four hours on my parents' typewriter, engineering two single-spaced columns on one page. But the law still hadn't changed by the time I reached 18, and I watched the Kennedy-Nixon election from the sidelines.

My first chance came in 1964. I couldn't wait for election day. I worked in New York's financial district, that Goldwater stronghold where the sight of my LBJ button evoked grimaces and guffaws in gilded elevators. But I wasn't discouraged. I could cast a ballot, too.

Does one vote matter? Elsewhere, all over the globe, people are dying to vote. Could it be that in America we are suffering from election overkill? Just about everything here is put to a vote. Our exercise of freedom has been trivialized to electing the nation's favorite soft drink while watching the nation's sports heroes elect not to play ball.

We start voting at a very young age, in the classroom. Have we tired of making choices by the time we are eligible to choose our government? Certainly we are sated with the megabuck multimedia campaigns. We're sick of predictions which purport to make the outcome a foregone conclusion.

But no computers or statistics are going to usurp my place. Nor do my husband and I stay home when we know we'll cancel out each other's vote. (In time one of us will have the satisfaction of saying to the other, "Well, you voted for him.")

Should there be a law? If we have reached that point, we are not long for the world. The opportunity itself should be all the incentive and reward we ever need. When people tell you they aren't bothering to vote tomorrow, light a fire under them.

Ellen Kirvin Dudis writes from Pocomoke City.


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