Roger Watson Column: If for no other reason, vote in honor of those who can’t

Published 10:25 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

If you are planning to join the almost half of all Americans who will not vote in Tuesday’s election and stay away from the polls, let me introduce you to my daughter Miriam.

Roger Watson

Miriam is a 16-year-old junior in high school who has never voted, only because they won’t let her. The aspiring political science major and middle child in my family has taken it upon herself to make sure every eligible voter in our family votes each election — even the boring ones.

She harasses her older brother to come home from college long enough to cast a ballot, makes sure my wife Jenelle fits a visit to the polls into her day and recently went along with me to vote absentee a couple weeks ago. I think she wanted to make doubly sure I voted for the right candidates.

If you are so tired of election drama, the endless negative ads, the barrage of road signs and empty campaign promises that you have disjoined yourself from the political process, I understand perfectly because I was right there with you not long ago.

After the 2016 election, I decided I probably wasn’t going to vote anymore. Frustrated with the 24-hour news cycle from hell, two political parties who cared more about making each other look bad than actually helping people and the inability to no longer recognize truth as truth, I was done. I would focus more on baseball, exercising and some church projects with which I was involved.

It felt like a fine decision until Virginia’s June primary rolled around and Miriam asked me when I was going to vote. I initially told her I wasn’t going to vote. It was only a couple candidates who were going to win by large margins, so it really wasn’t worth it. That didn’t sound good when I said it and it still doesn’t sound good. Basically, I was telling my daughter, whose laptop is covered in political stickers, there was no reason to vote.

I was not going to win this argument against Miriam and Democracy, so I took the five minutes and voted in the primary.

Since then, I have discovered that voting is not all about me. That is a selfish way to look at it. I don’t go vote solely for my interests. I’m voting for my children Will, Miriam and Grace so they can hopefully have better lives than I have. I’m voting for the disadvantaged who will never make it to the polls. I’m voting for those who will come after and carry on this great experiment of an imperfect Republic.

This Tuesday, it’s not about you and whether you have enough time or are frustrated with the messiness of politics. Find someone who can benefit from your vote. Maybe it’s a grandchild, a neighbor or maybe you even vote in memory of someone who has passed on.

But most of all vote, or be ready to explain to a 16-year-old why it just wasn’t important to you.

Roger Watson is publisher of The Stanly News & Press.