If you had to pick the single most important virtue of the good ole US of A, what would it be? What does our nation stand for, more than anything else? Remember the line from the “Star Spangled Banner?”

If you had to pick the single most important virtue of the good ole US of A, what would it be? What does our nation stand for, more than anything else? Remember the line from the “Star Spangled Banner?”

“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  Yes, indeed, what we stand for, and are known for throughout the world, is freedom. Next question: if you had to pick the single most important freedom we enjoy, among all other freedoms, what would it be?  THE FREEDOM TO VOTE! One of the great truisms is that freedom is not free.

How many of our forefathers bought and paid for our freedom with their very lives?  As a 70-year-old great-grandfather, I truly get teary eyed when I think of all those young men who never knew what it was like to experience the miracle of their own seed, or look into eyes of their newly born grandchild or even a great grandchild. Many of them never even experienced the joys of a honeymoon or married life. You cannot put a higher price on freedom than that. I can only believe that the Good Lord must have a special place of joy reserved, just for them, in Heaven.

Most, if not all, of our freedoms also carry a price. If we have enough money, we can live where ever we choose, marry whom we choose, buy a car and drive wherever we choose to travel, attend the school of our choice, etc. All of these freedoms also carry a price tag. One of the secrets of enjoying all of these freedoms is to know what we can and cannot do. I cannot drive that new car I just purchased 90 miles per hour on Interstate 70. (One could argue I could also purchase the freedom to speed, if I was willing to pay the fine and/or spend time in jail).

Of all the freedoms that we enjoy, more than any other country in the world, there is a great irony.

When you compare all of the freedoms just noted, (you can make up your own list of freedoms), with the greatest freedom we have, THE FREEDOM TO VOTE, you will see that the freedom to vote is indeed the least expensive.  The only expense you may incur is transportation (hitch a ride at no expense).  You simply go to the polls and vote.

The county even supplies the location, markers and equipment.

So what is stopping you from taking advantage of the single most important freedom we enjoy?  My guess is APATHY.  I would suggest that there are two types of apathetic citizens:  (1) Those who don’t even bother to go the polls, and (2) those who go the polls to vote but are uniformed about the issues or the candidates.  First, let’s consider those who don’t even bother to get dressed and drive to the polling place.  The Camden County Clerk recently informed me that the most optimistic voter turnout, of all of the registered voters, is 35 percent. Say what?  He estimated that it will probably be less.  I thought that our democracy was based on “the majority rules”.  If the 35 percent figure is correct, and if you do the math, it appears that it will be “the minority rules.”

I recently viewed a television documentary on the first elections in Iraq. I was surprised to learn that they had a voter turnout of over 80 percent. When you consider, as the documentary vividly reported, those voters went to the polls under the threat and duress of their losing their very lives and the lives of their families.  WOW!  Another real irony.  Those folks really know how to value their freedom to vote.  No voting apathy in Iraq.

Now let’s consider those apathetic voters, who I would call the “wild guess” voters.  The good news is that they do go to the polls; the bad news is they are ignorant of the issues and/or candidates.  So I have a question for those “wild guess” voters.  When you step into that voting booth, draw the curtain, look at the ballot, what is the worst thing that can happen to you?  Answer:  You don’t have the slightest clue about the issues or the candidates, or what they stand for, so you take a wild guess.  How many morons get into office, or unfair taxes are adopted, thanks to the “wild guess” voters?

For the first group of apathetic citizens, shame on you.  Do the citizens of Iraq value their freedom of voting more than you?  Apparently so!

For the second group of apathetic citizens, my advice is to get educated.  One of the best ways of becoming an informed voter is to attend one of the local “Meet the Candidates” programs.  I would suggest that those elected into office will serve us best if they are elected by informed voters.  One such program is scheduled for Tuesday, July 27, starting at 6 pm, and located on 125 Oddo Dr., across from LR 5-39.  Just look for the sign “Tourist Information”.

This event is for Morgan and Camden County voters and is sponsored by The Lake of the Ozarks West Chamber of Commerce and the Laurie 5-O Crime Watch.  Each candidate will be given three minutes to convince us why we should vote them into office.  Each voter will be provided a list of candidates appearing on the ballot for their county, along with space for taking notes.  This event will also provide an excellent opportunity to socialize with your friends and the candidates while sharing lemonade, coffee, cookies and stimulating conversation. I plan to attend and become an informed voter.

Larry Magill,
Sunrise Beach