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Whatever You Support, Please Vote. Because It Matters

More than one person has told me recently that he or she doesn’t vote because there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, that both are equally corrupt and irresponsible, and that it just doesn’t really matter who wins, because nothing will change either way.
     I disagree. The parties and their candidates share many virtues and faults, but they are not the same in the effects their elected officials have on our nation. Consider some of the elections of our historical past.
     In 1864, George McClellan lost to incumbent Abraham Lincoln. McClellan was willing to compromise on slavery. His victory would likely have meant a re-united nation with slavery legal where it existed and extended into any new states added. Lincoln’s victory assured the end of slavery.
     In the election of 1896, incumbent William McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan. The U.S., during McKinley’s first term, had won the Spanish-American War, and in the aftermath acquired the Philippine Islands as a colony. McKinley campaigned on a platform to keep U.S. possession of the islands. Bryan opposed colonialism and imperialism, and campaigned to make the Philippines an independent nation. If Bryan had won, Japan would probably not have felt threatened by the U.S. presence in the Pacific. There would have been no Pearl Harbor in 1941, and no subsequent war with Japan.
     In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt defeated the incumbent Herbert Hoover. At the height of the Great Depression, Hoover was advocating a laissez-faire, hands-off approach to the economic crisis, willing to let it play out without major government intervention. Roosevelt, once elected, inaugurated the New Deal, bringing in government involvement in the economic and social life of the country on an unprecedented scale, the effects of which continue to be of major significance.
     I could cite also the elections of 1800 1828, 1844, and 1860 as turning points in our history because of the differences in policies between the winners and losers. Had these gone the other way, our history might have been much different.
     More recently, had Al Gore instead of George Bush won in 2000, there are good reasons to believe that the reaction to 9/11 would have been different. The seemingly endless wars we’re engaged in in the Middle East would not have gotten started in the first place, and we would be much further along the road to becoming energy independent through the development of renewable fuels, with a cleaner, safer environment to boot.
     Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, there would not have been the roll-backs of environmental protections that have occurred under Trump, nor the demonization of immigrants, nor the encouragement of radical right-wing groups, nor the alienation of allies. She might not have accomplished much positive, but many of the negatives we live with now would probably not exist. (Disclaimer: I disapproved of much of her platform; did not vote for her in the primaries; and ended up supporting her in the general election only because she seemed likely to do less damage than Trump. I think I was right on that.)
     Considering these examples, I cannot agree with those who say that it doesn’t matter who gets elected because things won’t change. History suggests otherwise. History suggests that it can matter a very great deal.
     Regardless of whom or what you support, I hope that you will participate in our democratic process. Please register to vote, and then VOTE.
Mike Metzger
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