EDITORIAL, April 17: Voting’s not some bonus prize; it’s our duty – Opinion – Wilmington Star News


For several weeks, barren landscapes have been exploding with azalea blooms. We couldn’t help but be excited seeing our yard come back to life.

But oh how soon the flowers fade — they droop, lose their color and finally fall lifeless to the ground.

Despite a recent bloom of political activism and passion, history suggests that come election day most people will opt out of their most important duty as citizen — voting.

The StarNews doesn’t make candidate endorsements. What we do endorse, however, is the necessity of citizens to be informed about the issues and to vote.

We’ve harped on this recently and do so again: the United States is a republic, “A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them,” one definition says.

For a few years, passionate arguments have been made about our national flag. In pledging our allegiance to the flag, we are pledging allegiance to the “republic for which it stands.” If we are serious about citizenship, we need to take that word “republic” pretty seriously, too.

Another definition says a republic is “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.”

Regardless of how you parse “republic,” its essence remains the “public” … the “people.” Government “by the people” is one of our nation’s most powerful ideals. In our form of government, the active participation of the public is not icing on the cake — it IS the cake. “Citizen” is as necessary and important as “representative” or “senator” or “commissioner.” Without the participation of informed citizens, our government does not work. That is why we get a bee in our azalea bonnet when those who hold office opt for secrecy over openess, or devise rules that make it harder for people to vote or otherwise have their voices heard.

With early voting underway for the May 8 primary election, we hope that unlike those wilting azaleas the recent bloom of political involvement from all sides is sustained. Political passion no doubt is important. But marches and protests go only so far, and the enthusiasm they breed can be short-lived.

We just spent a week celebrating the azalea. When it’s in bloom, little can rival it. And although we won’t be spending the next 51 weeks celebrating it, tending to that now-flowerless and nondescript shrub remains essential.

Grassroots work, learning the ins and outs of issues and, of course, making it to the polls no matter how inconvenient might not compare with the thrill of a rally or march, but they are the things that matter most.

We can be inspired by the “passion” of politics … the “blooms.” But if we are serious when we pledge allegiance to our republic, we should understand that it’s not only a right to be informed and to vote, it is a duty.

Unless we are willing to perform our duty as citizens of the republic … to be informed … to vote, we should not stand, place our hands over our hearts and pledge our allegiance.

In our unique form of government, participation of the public is not optional. Without that participation, no pledge of allegiance is needed because there IS no republic.

Get informed and vote. It is our privilege and our duty.

You can learn when and where to vote by visiting www.ncsbe.gov/Voters/Voter-Tools

Election Calendar

April 12: Early voting begins for primary elections

May 5: Early voting ends for primary elections

May 8: Election Day for primary elections

June 11: Filing for Soil and Water Conservation boards begins

June 18: Filing for judicial races begins

June 29: Filing for judicial races ends

July 6: Filing for Soil and Water Conservation boards ends

Oct. 18: Early voting begins for general election

Nov. 3: Early voting ends for general election

Nov. 6: Election Day

Source: N.C. State Board of Elections

 

 

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