Tuesday's No. 1 priority Vote: It's your only chance to do something about it.

November 04, 1996

"EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT the weather, but nobody does anything about it." So said humorist Mark Twain (also attributed to Charles Dudley Warner). The same sentiment applies to politics and government: Everybody complains, endlessly and bitterly, but when it comes time to do something about it, we don't participate on Election Day.

Our track record is pretty feeble. Nearly half the people in this country who register don't even bother showing up at the polls. The percentage is somewhat better in Maryland, but not by much.

Exciting, close races usually stimulate interest on Election Day. But that isn't likely to be the case this year. Citizens will have to provide their own stimulation.

Why vote tomorrow? Because it is your chance to express your sentiments in a way that can make a difference. It is your chance to help determine the nation's next president. It is your chance to choose your representative in Congress.

You have a say in how your local government spends your tax dollars on bond projects. You decide if lame-duck governors in Maryland should be forbidden from making "midnight appointments." You determine if judges on the state's two appeals courts can be booted from office. And in some counties, you decide who sits on the school board.

That's potent stuff. Voters forget how much influence they are given on Election Day.

We live in a country with a form of government known as representative democracy. As citizens, we don't have the time or in-depth knowledge to vote on every bill and implement every law. We give our elected leaders the powers to do that for us. They make the laws and carry them out -- and then we get to pass judgment on their decisions. If they haven't represented our true interests, we vote to replace them. That is how our democracy works. But it only works well if Joe and Joan Q. Citizen take their voting obligations seriously.

It's true: Everyone complains about the weather. Yet it is also true that we are powerless to alter the forces of nature. Not so with American politics. We can change the direction of political events. We can reverse the course of political rivers or stem political tides. On Election Day, we have the power -- if we take the time to go to the polls to use it.

Pub Date: 11/04/96

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