12 America - US Flag flying at Hull Yacht ClubBy Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and the Boston City Paper 10/2008

Global warming. Taxes. Guns. Immigration. Iraq. Energy. Environment. Economy. Gay marriage. Free speech. Free choice. My rights. Your rights. Show up or shut up. Vote!

The above quote appeared in a recent Boston Phoenix ad and it caught my eye. It’s succinct, powerful, and I like it because no matter what your opinion on any of the topics mentioned, the ad reminds us that 1) There’s a lot at stake in this election; 2) Decisions are made by those who show up and vote.

And I would add 3) the above list is maybe one percent of everything we’re discussing these days: The questions we’re asking, the issues we face, the problems to be solved, the changes we’re making. The plan for the future.

So, let me ask you this: How many of you receive the red “Information for Voters” in the mail recently?

Yep, ALL of you.

Now, quick show of hands, how many of you took the time to read it?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Not good.

You’ve heard it before, but this is one of the most important elections in our history. As a good citizen, as someone who cares about the Nation’s future, you need to do the following two things:

  • Be as informed as you possibly can. (Read EVERYTHING. The newspapers. News magazines. Books. Watch EVERYTHING. The news shows. The talk shows. The various interview programs. The political commentary. The satires. Listen to Talk Radio). Watch, read and listen to a VARIETY of sources — every single source has a particular bias; only by making sure your information flow is well-rounded can you get a balanced picture and create your own INFORMED opinion.
  • On Election Day, vote. It’s that simple. Make the time (polls open at 6am!).

This is a big ballot! Your presidential choices include not only the republican and democratic candidates, but candidates in the constitution, libertarian, green-rainbow and independent parties. There is a senate contest here in Massachusetts. There are a host of local elections in towns across the nation, including ours.

And three important questions are on the Massachusetts ballot regarding the elimination of the State Personal Income Tax, changes to the laws regarding possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, and a proposed law to eliminate dog racing.

The results — and the future — are based on your choices. Your decisions.

Your vote DOES matter.

Check out Massachusetts’s Secretary of State Francis Gavin’s website (http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/) for a wealth of information about the election and answers to all the frequently asked questions. You can even get a new copy of that red “Information for Voters” book that you haven’t read yet!

Voting is one of your most precious rights; a right so many have died to protect, and a right so many people in the world only dream of.

Be as informed as you can, and vote. Remember: Decisions are made by those who show up.

End of speech.

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