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I'll never criticize anyone for exercising their freedoms

As a practice, for no other reason than trying to be as “in the moment” as possible given the timing hurdles of a weekly column space, I always strive for some level of timeliness when I write. But there are some weeks where I just flat out miss it. This is one of those weeks.
 
That’s because I wanted to address the importance of voting this week, and unless you’ve been living in the same fog that was clearly enveloping me lately, you realize that all that stuff happened a week ago.
 
So forgive me for speaking so much in the past tense, but if you managed to make your way to the polls last Tuesday, give yourself a high five.
 
That’s because, at least in my view, voting is one of those rights we should always take seriously. And last week’s election day was significant because, if you didn’t notice, there weren’t a great number of items on most ballots of great interest.
 
That’s not to take away from local city council races and school board candidates and levy renewals, but these are the election days where voter turnout is typically lackluster. And that’s a shame because an awful lot of folks have sacrificed to uphold our ability to freely choose our civic leadership.
 
Don’t misread where I’m going. I’m a freedom-first guy, and the freedom to abstain from voting is just as important as our freedom to vote, but there’s this piece that gnaws at me when I see so many folks give up the voice that our veterans have fought to give them.
 
For the past year our country has been embroiled in a debate over athletes kneeling during our national anthem. But whether you agree or disagree with their platform, the fact is that these people are using the freedom and the voice that’s been given to them to express their views, peacefully.
 
That’s something distinctly American. Indifference, on the contrary, is not.
 
If you chose to criticize Colin Kaepernick and the hundreds of athletes who stood with him over the past year, yet you didn’t turn out to vote last Tuesday because there just weren’t ballot issues you felt were important, well, shame on you.
 
Personally I think professional athletes protesting can find a much better way to make a difference. Most, if not all, are millionaires a few times over. Put your money where your mouth is and make a real difference in communities that need it.
 
But I’ll never criticize anyone for exercising their freedoms, and that includes both the freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to vote.
 
It’s right around this time of year when hundreds of thousands of veterans will be recognized at school assemblies across the country, where kids learn about the sacrifices these folks made to keep us safe and protect our freedoms.
 
We should honor these folks at every opportunity. But greater than all the thank you notes, hand shakes and applause we can give them in an elementary school gymnasium, we should show our appreciation by using the voice they’ve given us.
 
And that starts at the voting booth.
 

Published: November 13, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171109912