Believe me, nobody will be more happy than I will to see this current campaign season - with all its circus atmosphere and a cast of characters that makes me wonder sometimes if both major party candidates are being funded by Mad magazine -  finally come to an end.   

People complain about “election fatigue” in pretty much every campaign cycle, but I can’t remember a time when my own sense of fatigue has been so pronounced and, at times, downright painful to bear. More than once in recent weeks, as I have watched the national news on television while eating dinner at home, I have found myself fighting off the urge to throw a shoe at the TV screen and screaming in my best imitation of Charlton Heston, “It’s a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!!!!

That said, there is one issue about the election that I find myself feeling somewhat obliged to comment on. It has nothing to do with either of the candidates; I know how I feel on that matter and I suspect more than a few of you do too by now, and if so then I’m sure there’s nothing I can say here that will convince you to change your mind if we don’t happen to agree on that score. And about the only thing I can think of right now to say to those of you who have not yet made up your own mind is to simply consider the question of what kind of world you want to bequeath to your children and your children’s children, and how your choice in the voting booth this November might ultimately impact the answer to that question. 

No, my comments at this point are directed solely at those who have stated, in one-on-one conversations with me or in interviews with various print and broadcast news outlets over the past few months, that they do not plan on casting a vote at all this year.

I understand that some people will always be disappointed that some certain candidate or another did not win their party’s nomination. I’m disappointed that the person I most wanted to see get my party’s nod is not our nominee; I admit there is a certain sense of having to hold my nose and picking the lesser of two evils when I cast my vote in November. 

But it occurs to me that there comes a point when disappointment starts to look like simply being a sore loser. And while some people believe that staying home and not voting is an appropriate way of protesting an election in which no candidate represents them, I’m more inclined to believe that not voting is akin to turning your back on America and saying “Screw it, I just don’t care.”  

I am reminded of a front page article I remember rewarding in an area newspaper back in 1998, concerning an apparent lack of interest in that year’s election on the part of Coal County voters. The article in question (to which I devoted a column in response at the time) had included a quote from a waitress who felt that some residents are “put out” by politics in general.  

“Look at who we’ve put in office,” she told the reporter, adding that she preferred to just “stay out of it until we can do some good.”

Let me throw out a question for folks to ponder: Exactly how are we to “do some good” unless we go out and vote? How can you ever hope to send a message to the candidates you support - and to the candidates you don’t - if you don’t even bother to go to the polls?

Thomas Paine probably said it best back in 1795 when he wrote: “The right of voting… is the primary right by which other rights are protected.”

Consider also the following passage, from what some may seem an unlikely source. It’s a quote from the Prologue of the book version of the first Star Wars film: “Like the greatest of trees, able to withstand any external attack, the Republic rotted from within…”

In the case of the fictional Republic, it was corruption that caused the government to “rot from within.” But it could have just as easily been caused by voter apathy, which virtually guarantees that those corrupt politicians already in office will remain there.

What it all boils down to, ultimately, is that ALL candidates need all their supporters to show up and vote. In the long run, who you vote for is not nearly as important as simply going out and making the effort to vote at all. Only through active participation in the election process will the Founding Fathers’ grand experiment continue to succeed.

Bottom line: get out there and vote, for crying out loud. Support your candidate, even if your wife or your boss or your newspaper supports the other guy (or gal). Even if you’re one of the only five or six voters who actually support the candidacy of Ferdinand Lobomowicz for Superintendent of the Ministry of Silly Walks, then by all means get out there to your precinct polling place and mark your ballot for Ferdie. 

Take part in the process. It’s more than just a right; it’s a responsibility.

Because I’ve got a news flash for you, Bunky. The only wasted vote is the one you don’t cast.

(Copyright © 2016 by John A. Small)