The civil way

It doesn’t hurt to keep reminding ourselves just why we go vote
H.L. Mencken, the patron saint of journalism if ever there was one, once defined voting as “a way to determine which side is stronger without putting it to the test of fighting.”

That’s a typical Mencken quote — funny, tight, somewhat cynical and with a lot more there than meets the eye.

It’s kind of a backhanded way of saying voting is a very civilized thing to do. We know that but it’s beneficial to keep being reminded of it every once in a while.

Early voting for the March 2 Democratic and Republican Primaries begins Tuesday at four locations around the county. You can read about the locations and hours in a story on Page 1A.

Now, even H.L. Mencken probably wouldn’t say voting in these elections is what’s keeping Milam County folks from coming to blows over who’s going to be our county officials next year.

But the process we will use right here over the next few weeks, and months, is the same one that divides large, peaceful, parts of this world from the parts that aren’t so peaceful.

Here’s where the admonition to please get out and vote usually comes. By all means, do just that, although Milam County residents don’t need to hang their heads to anyone when it comes to doing our civic duty at the ballot box.

Milam’s turnouts in presidential election years have certainly been admirable, a string of 50-percent plus turnouts in recent years and exactly 60 percent in the last two, 2008 and 2004.

Even the off-year election of 2006 drew 40 percent of registered Milam voters, a turnout that would be the envy of many places in this country.

Of course it does make you wonder a little about those who don’t vote, roughly half the eligible voters in our county. The old excuse of “I just didn’t have the time” won’t wash anymore since early voting is now spread out over a period of 10 days.

Mencken might say they’d rather fight than vote. Of course, he’d also say if everybody felt that way, we might have to go back to fighting each other to choose our leaders like so much of the world does.

And wouldn’t that be a shame. Please, let’s just go vote.—M.B.

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2010-02-11 digital edition

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