C.J. Marshall: Significa: One should never squander a sacred trust
The recent political upset of ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to challenger Dave Brat during Virginia's primary race in its Seventh Congressional District reminds me of an episode of "All in the Family."
Archie and Mike were at loggerheads - as usual - this time over a candidate running for the local city council. Archie was in favor of the conservative candidate, of course, while Mike wanted the person with the obviously more liberal point of view.
The matter finally came to head with Archie, Edith, Mike and Gloria going to the polls on Election Day to cast their votes. It was Gloria's first time, and she was very proud of the fact, but the main thrust of the matter - at least according to Archie's point of view - was that his and Edith's votes for HIS choice were going to cancel out Mike and Gloria's votes for their candidate.
Archie's turn comes up and he gives his name to the election official. However, a problem comes up when the official cannot find Archie's name on the election rolls. She informs Archie that the rolls are normally purged in New York if a person hasn't voted in 10 years, then asks him who was the last person he voted for.
"Nixon," Archie says proudly. (As a point of reference, this episode was initially broadcast in 1971).
The poll worker continues to look through the books, but cannot understand why Archie's name is not on the lists. This goes on for a few minutes until Edith speaks up.
"Archie, I don't think that was the Nixon-Humphrey election," she said. "I think that was the Nixon-Kennedy election."
When this is determined to be true, the poll worker tells Archie she's sorry, but his name has been purged from the rolls, and he can't vote. She then asks him what was so important that he couldn't take the time to vote in all those years. Archie grouses that he "had more important things to do."
"Oh yes," Edith confirms. "One year he had to mail a letter..." and then proceeds to list a lot of other inane excuses Archie used as to why he didn't vote.
So, Archie wasn't able to vote in that election, and it turned out to be a victory, of sorts, for Mike because Edith didn't reveal to him what had happened. The election winner wasn't revealed in the episode, but Archie said at the conclusion that it would be too bad if (name of the candidate he opposed) would win by just one vote.
Indeed. Although Eric Cantor was beaten by more than just one vote in the primary election, his situation demonstrates very neatly the importance of we, the people of this nation, exercising our right to vote.
After Mr. Cantor's defeat, political analysts across the country gave their reasons why Mr. Brat was able to pull off such a stunning upset. Mr. Brat is a member of the conservative element in this country colloquially referred to as the "tea party," and some have speculated that Mr. Cantor as not conservative enough for the voters of his political district. However, I contest this thought. My theory is that Mr. Cantor was defeated because not enough eligible voters who would have voted for him went to the polls on Election Day.
Throughout this nation, there are sadly a considerable number of people who don't go to the polls because they are convinced that their votes don't count. And an additional cause for concern are the people who don't vote in primaries because they don't consider primary elections to be of any great importance. Those who check the numbers will often discover a disquieting fact - that considerably more people turn out to vote for General Elections, as opposed to primary races.
But this can be a very bad mistake, as demonstrated by what occurred recently in Virginia. I've seen it happen before - abet on a much smaller scale. A school board member or borough council representative is up for re-election in a primary. Someone - usually with an ax to grind - decides this is their opportunity to get elected so they can put forth their agenda to the government body in question. So they campaign hard, and they get their friends and relatives to turn out during the primary. Because it is a primary, those who would normally vote for the incumbent don't turn out because they figure it isn't that important - and sometimes even the incumbents don't campaign hard because they figure they can't lose.
But sometimes they are proved wrong, and as a result the opposition elected - even if said person doesn't have the support of the majority of the voters. However, in such circumstances its always the majority of the voters who go to the polls and cast their votes that count. Those who stay home on Election Day have no one to blame but themselves if they don't like the way their government bodies are being run.
This Fourth of July weekend, let us take a moment to remember that voting is a sacred trust that our forefathers fought and died to obtain for this nation. When each Election Day rolls around - both general and primary - make sure you exercise your right to vote. It's a duty that every citizen of this nation should be proud to perform.
C.J. Marshall is a writer and columnist for The Daily Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by calling (570) 265-1630.