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Educate yourself before you vote


October 25, 2018

I had the privilege to be in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 14, 2014. That was a significant date for the Afghan people because it was the second round of their first-ever democratic election. I consider having been there a privilege because of what I witnessed. I was in a position to see rockets launched into the city by terrorists determined to derail the election. The Afghan people stood in line to vote, knowing they could be in the crosshairs!

As part of the process, each person had to present identification and provide a fingerprint before voting. Many were so proud they had voted that they wouldn’t wash the ink off their fingers and instead displayed it as a badge of honor. Later that same day, I heard about a van full of Afghan voters (easily identified because of that ink) pulled over by terrorists in the Helmand Province. Each voter had the tip of their “voting finger” snipped off with bolt cutters. Think about that! In this country we take our right to vote for granted so much so that I think it’s pathetic. I know people who put more thought into where they’re going for happy hour than they do how, or even if, they’re going to vote!

We’ve got a big election coming up on November 6. I’m using this platform (and the above example), to remind everyone to vote and to take that privilege seriously. It’s a big deal! Beyond that … educate yourselves. The information is out there. Set Facebook aside for a few minutes and learn about the candidates and the issues on both the local and national level.

The Ledger has done a tremendous job putting together a forum for our local election. If you weren’t able to attend the actual forum, take the time to read the candidate statements in the paper before you vote. It was absolutely worth my time and I found it very enlightening. Additionally, review the information and qualifications of each candidate thoroughly. I thought that the questions asked of the candidates were clear and pertinent to the position that each was seeking. It’s important, therefore, to pay close attention to the questions each candidate was asked and consider their answers critically. I was really disappointed that a few of the candidates seemed to have no idea what the duties of the position they were seeking would entail. Propriety doesn’t allow me to be more specific here, so I have to speak in very general terms. Simply put, in my opinion, if a candidate can’t answer a simple question about the job they’re seeking, he/she isn’t the right person for that job!

On the national level, take the time to educate yourself about those issues and candidates as well. Recent events surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation effectively highlighted how politically divided we are as a nation. Quite frankly, I was embarrassed for our country because of the actions of many of our elected officials. It seems to me that common decency was tossed out the window and some pretty deplorable tactics were employed to reach a political end. Most of us watched the confirmation process unfold on television and know the final outcome. For me, it points to a certain political culture in Washington that I find disgusting. Consider all of what you saw when you vote and then where this country is headed. Decide where you stand and the direction you think this country should go. Easy for me … I’m voting my conscience!

Blaine Blackstone is a retired Los Angeles Police Sergeant who enjoys the simpler life in Thompson Falls. He can be reached by email at [email protected]


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