If you don’t vote, don’t complain about the outcome

Published 4:55 pm Friday, May 18, 2018

OK, raise your hand and repeat after me: “I, (state your name), do solemnly swear that if I do not vote in the primaries next Tuesday, May 22, I will not criticize those who win. I further pledge that I will not talk about ‘crooked politicians’ and how my vote doesn’t matter. I will accept the fact that I am too apathetic to appreciate what a special privilege it is to participate in free elections; a right denied in other parts of the world. Finally, instead of caring who is representing us in the various levels of government and making laws that can impact our life, I will be watching reruns of ‘MASH’ and eating leftover pizza, so help me You-Know-Who.”

Now that we have that crowd out of the way, let’s talk about the upcoming primaries. For the first time in four years, we will be selecting gubernatorial candidates. Chances are good we will have to do it all over again on July 24 because there will likely be runoffs for several races, most especially the governor’s race.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle seems to have a commanding lead among Republican gubernatorial candidates, but can he get to the 50 percent threshold to win the primary outright and avoid a runoff? I doubt it. Watch out for whoever comes in second. In the Republican primary in 2010, then-Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel came in first with 34 percent of the vote. A guy named Nathan Deal trailed with 23 percent. And we all know how that runoff turned out.

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Right now, getting into a runoff with Cagle seems to be between Secretary of State Brian Kemp and former state Sen. Hunter Hill, although I am sure state Sen. Michael Williams and businessman Clay Tippins will dispute that. Note to both: If either of you do come in second, give me a call and I will eat a slice of humble pie.

On the Democratic side, former state Rep. Stacey Abrams seems to have a comfortable lead over her main rival, former state Rep. Stacey Evans to challenge the Republican winner on Nov. 6. 

At the moment, neither party seems to care about those of us in the middle. For Republican candidates, it is all about who is the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment and Donald Trump. For Democrats, it is about trying to convince their troops they can push a liberal agenda through a conservative Legislature. When the winning candidates have secured the nomination, perhaps then their political consultants will allow them to see what the rest of us are thinking.

There are a number of other races taking place besides the governor’s race. We will be electing a lieutenant governor, a secretary of state, attorney general, insurance commissioner, agriculture commissioner, labor commissioner, school superintendent and a public service commissioner. In addition, there are a couple of U.S. House races, 180 state House seats up for grabs (you can only vote for one), 56 state Senate seats (ditto), judges, school board members and county commissioners, among others.

You may be saying that this is too much to keep up with and as much as I want to be a good citizen, maybe I will just watch reruns of “MASH” and munch on cold pizza instead. Don’t do it. That is unless you don’t buy insurance, electricity, don’t care about the food you eat or the taxes you pay or having a job or law enforcement or zoning issues.

When we talk about the sad state of politics, we have no one to blame but ourselves. In the 2014 general elections, less than half of us even took the time to vote in Georgia.

I happened to be in Iraq when a new constitution was about to be voted on. It was the first opportunity for women to cast a ballot. Some people walked — walked! — 20 miles for the privilege. And we can’t get off our lazy tushes and make it to the nearest polling station? That is shameful and inexcusable.

I get great sport out of gigging politicians but I admire their willingness, as Teddy Roosevelt said, to get into the arena and at least make the effort. Good for them and good for those of us who care enough to try to elect the best of them.

My hero, Winston Churchill, once opined, “Democracy is the worst form of government — except for all the others.” It can be even worse if we chose not to participate.