“See, I told you it didn’t make any difference to vote. I shouldn’t have bothered. Bernie Sanders lost anyway.”
I was standing in line at Target Thursday afternoon when I overheard an exchange between two guys —both of whom were wearing sports jerseys. They looked to be in their mid-20s.
The bottom line is they didn’t think voting was worth the effort.
That contrasts sharply with an exchange I had with a pleasant — and I might add efficient — cashier at Food 4 Less on the Saturday prior to the primary.
She asked if I was planning on voting. It kind of caught me off guard but I replied in the affirmative noting I have done so in every election — primary, special or otherwise — since I had turned 18.
I inquired why she was asking.
She said she was asking everyone to remind them to vote and how this was the first election that she was able to vote in. She added a lot of people said they weren’t going to bother. Some, she noted, said their vote doesn’t really count with so many people voting.
I said something along the line that they should vote so just so they earn the right to complain. The cashier agreed and that was the end of the conversation.
On Friday, the Secretary of State’s office reported that only 49 percent of the state’s all-time high of 17.9 million voters bothered to cast ballots.
After overhearing what I did Thursday and seeing how many people that had bothered to register didn’t bother to vote despite it never being easier to do so in the history of the republic, I realized we weren’t a nation of whiners or realists. We are a nation of losers.
The guy in Target who said it essentially wasn’t worth the effort to vote because his guy didn’t win happened to be wearing the jersey of an adult softball team that plays at Big League Dreams.
I wonder how many games he didn’t bother to show up for when the odds were stacked against his team.
You play games knowing someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. And a lot of times the same teams win and the same teams lose. If your team doesn’t win very much at all do you simply not show up? You would be hard pressed to find very many people who wouldn’t call someone who did that a loser in the truest sense although some may be kinder and call them quitters.
I assure you many of the candidates or ballot measures I supported in primaries and general elections didn’t prevail. Given that I’m kind of a moderate Republican— some say liberal because of social issues — I’m often on the losing side in the primary. And given this is California, my pick for statewide offices often come down to a Democrat that often isn’t moderate and a Republican that isn’t moderate. I’d venture to say for offices such as state senate and below I probably have an .850 batting average. In statewide elections and presidential races I’m likely at .200 or below.
So why do I bother to vote given that in the more local races those I support are likely to win anyway while those at the state level and above are likely to lose? It is just a waste of time, right?
I do it because of all of the Charles O. Palmer IIs — 1.3 million of them — that gave their lives since the dawn of the republic to secure freedoms that have eluded the masses for most of recorded civilization.
The ability to have a chance at electing those that govern us instead of that being decided by bloodline, military takeover, economic status, skin tone, gender, religion or ethnic background might just be the most sacred freedom of all.
Yet because many of us “lose” when we vote or feel as if we are lost in a sea, we opt to make voting arguably the most lethargic freedom we possess that was established and secured by the blood of men and women of whom almost all we have never met.
If 1.3 million people of which almost all are complete strangers can lose everything for me the least I can do is use the freedoms they died for.
I get it. Some of those wars weren’t “just”. But they didn’t know at the time. Instead they were guided by the sense of something bigger than them.
The November election promises to be one for the books. But it isn’t about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. It is about something much, much bigger.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.