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OPINION: For #***’s Sake, Vote!

August 10, 2012, 11:23 AM HST
* Updated August 10, 2:35 PM
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On a cool evening in April of 1989, US Vice President Dan Quayle stood on the tarmac of a Hawaiian airport and offered a few sage words on the strategic importance of the Aloha State, commenting, “Hawaii has always been a very pivotal role in the Pacific. It is in the Pacific. It is a part of the United States that is an island…that is right here.”

James Danforth Quayle. Father of the gaffe. US Senate image.

At least his geography was better than his spelling.

Regardless, Quayle would spend nearly another three years bungling his way through public appearances, causing millions of Americans (Democrat and Republican alike) to wish nothing but the best of health upon his boss, George H.W. Bush.

But how did someone so hapless end up a heartbeat away from the presidency? As is fashionable these days, let’s blame that on the Greeks.

The same folks dragging Europe into financial ruin are responsible for geometry, toga parties, and Western civilization as we know it. Around 2,500 years before their current rioting, a Greek by the name of Cleisthenes established the first major example of representative democracy via non-hereditary legislative bodies. From there, it’s pretty much a straight line (historically speaking) to the electoral defeat of Bush and Quayle in 1992.

Cleisthenes. Father of democracy.

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Sure, there may have been a Magna Carta here, and a Bill of Rights there, but never mind that. Thanks to Cleisthenes, America could choose Clinton. Eight years later, thanks to a blue dress, we’d find another Bush.

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The point is that for better or worse, we get to choose our leaders.

Unfortunately here in Hawaii, we don’t do much choosing at all. As mentioned in a prior article, in 2008 we had the worst election-day voter turnout in the country. Being that the Aloha State effectively has a one-party political system, our Aug. 11 Democratic primary is likely to crown more than a few all-but-certain general election winners.

If you’re a Democrat planning on sleeping in this Saturday and watching marathon reruns of “Swamp People,” we’d like you to take a moment to reconsider.

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We understand that you may be sacrificing time with a very comfortable chair, and probably don’t look forward to standing in line at a polling station. But, if you can survive a day of grocery shopping, you can pull this off. Choosing your favorite politician is like browsing the aisles of a discount retailer, minus the drug addicts and bad parenting.

If only we felt this way about politics. Image courtesy University of Missouri.

Even if you don’t have a “favorite” in the race, it’s still worth leaving the house. Treat politicians the way most Americans treat their sports teams. No matter how much they suck, at least show up on game day. Even if you’re voting for a loser, at least they’ll be your loser. You’ll automatically pay more attention to the sport itself.

But what if you hate everyone involved? No problem. If you can’t find a single name on the ballot worth voting for, then at least take the time to write something clever, or scribble a few profanities. It’s a wasted vote, but at least you’ll start building muscle memory for the next election.

Besides, you’ve got an example to set for future generations. If you have kids, turn off their video games and take them with you. Just tell them it’s like “Call of Duty,” only they get to leave the house. Sure, it’s an exaggeration, but they’ll face plenty of that from politicians when they grow up. It’s good training.

Collective effort can overcome even the greatest threats. Image courtesy Illinois State University.

And if you’re still lacking motivation, think back on all the things that may have bugged you at one time or another over the last two years: gas prices, heavy traffic, unemployment, feral pigs, excessive regulation, hot weather, high property taxes, barking dogs, Justin Bieber…

With the exception of the weather, all of the above problems could be solved, if only we all got angry enough.

So make yourself a mocha, slip on some sandals (and perhaps a toga), and go make some dead Greeks proud.

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