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At election time, you have a voice — and it is your obligation to use it

We must make our informed choice and pull a lever, check a box, or punch a chad. Like it or not, this is our burden as citizens of the greatest country to ever grace God’s green earth.

A voter marks his ballot during early voting in Minneapolis on September 18.
REUTERS/Julio-Cesar Chavez
I live in Maple Grove but tend to wander around the state. I’ve always been one to take the long way. County roads provide better panorama than interstates, and the additional hours behind the wheel offer insights deeper than a billboard touting the benefits of soft water, low-interest loans or loose slot machines.

These days my intentional detours are incessantly peppered with lawn signs. My thumbnail polling indicates the president is popular outside the metro and the challenger is supported inside the beltway. Shocking, I know. Between stops signs there is wonderful time for internal debate about whom to support in the coming election.

Air time, media buzz

As a country we have devolved into a never-ending election cycle in which each side pines for air time, media buzz and little cartoon hearts to merit their wisdom. Come on. We stood up against the King of England and his impregnable Armada for this? Really, this is how we rate ourselves? We are all pathetic. Every one of us. Except my Grandma; to her a tweet is a welcome sound in her apple tree. Grandmas just know what they know.

There was a time in American discourse when citizens talked about, debated, and fought for well-informed issues. They did so articulately and with great passion. Then, Americans expected the same passion of our leaders. Today we have rejected the debate of ideas for attacks on personalities. The Public House birthed our country and now we are loath to discuss politics in a bar for fear we may be lumped into some distasteful camp which would result in the quick and forceful ouster from our stool.

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For at least the second consecutive presidential election the middle third is forced to choose between a candidate they can’t support and someone they don’t want to support. As a traveler I have had the opportunity to espouse this theory to all walks of citizenry and found it to be universally accepted. Seriously, take an Uber ride and talk politics with your newly minted American. Dude will ask you what is wrong with us.

Our burden as citizens

Still, here we are. We must make our informed choice and pull a lever, check a box, or punch a chad. Like it or not, this is our burden as citizens of the greatest country to ever grace God’s green earth. You are granted a voice, actually an obligation, and it is ignored at your own peril.

Erik Johnson
Erik Johnson
So, now what? You don’t like Candidate A or B. Who gets your vote? I respectfully suggest both current candidates are seriously flawed. No, I am not about to trumpet the virtues or some third-party candidate and I am certainly not telling you to vote straight party line. Heaven forbid I tell you to stay home on Nov. 3.

Think about what is truly dear to you and your family. What is about to happen in this country which will have the deepest impact on your personal definition of happiness? You now have your lead issue. However, America isn’t that simple and neither is your vote. We are indebted to look farther ahead than the next four years. Elections have consequences, many of which will land squarely upon your doormat. We must look deeper. To be a single-issue voter is to dodge your obligation to our future as a country, a republic, and an idea.

Today the electorate needs to take the necessary time and expend the necessary effort to study not the candidate’s temperament, but where they propose to take the country. Look past the exquisitely edited campaign commercials, the blathering pundits on what we once called TV news, and the ever-available experts posed in front of their resplendent bookcases. Instead, endeavor to determine where you would like America to be in a generation or two. Once you have done so, you can cast your vote knowing you did what was right for your country.

Erik Johnson, of Maple Grove, works in corporate security. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a former member of the Maple Grove City Council.

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