Americans must practice vigilance through voting
If I were to ever get a tattoo, it’d say, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Nothing better sums up, in my mind, how crucial it is to vote in not only this election, but in every election.
Those seven words are engraved upon the statue of a grim Roman warrior sitting outside the National Archives in Washington, D.C. His left hand clutches a sword, his right hand holds a helmet, and a lion’s pelt drapes over his arm — all to convey that power must be checked at every turn by a diligent and watchful public.
I contend that, at every turn, we have failed to check the powers we’ve granted government. Only about two-thirds of our voting-age population shows up to vote every four years, and even fewer people vote in the congressional elections held every two years, according to a George Mason University study — and it shows.
When our country was founded, every citizen had the right to sign any private contract and have it upheld by a court. Everyone had the right to keep all income they fairly earned. Everyone had the right to enjoy recreational drugs. Every marriage made at the state level was recognized at the federal level, and every business could hire a worker without incurring the egregious compliance costs associated with federal regulation.
None of that is now true about America. While we have come a long way in some areas, namely in racial and gender equality, we have sat idly by while other basic freedoms were stripped from us by well-intentioned men who thought that they knew us better than we knew ourselves. Through the process of voter apathy, our government has stopped representing us.
Corruption has seeped through the cracks made by our neglect and interests of outside parties now hold more sway in our government than the people do.
We have no one to blame for this except ourselves, but rather than letting this deter us, we should realize that the need to vote has never been more urgent that it is now, and a lack of education or caring is no excuse for watching your freedoms erode.
As founding father Thomas Jefferson said, “I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take power from them, but to inform them by education.” Information has never been more readily available than it is now. American citizens owe it to those that created the great experiment that is the U.S., those who died for the country, and to themselves to do everything in their power to protect the ideals that have made this nation so prosperous.
I believe in American exceptionalism. We are the greatest country in the world. We are colonist John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill.” We are a country founded upon the idea that no man, mob, or government can restrict your volition. Your free will and your ability to exercise it are the only sacred things on this Earth and supersede any power that a government may ever attempt to exert upon you. Should any force attempt to take from you that which — by your own perseverance, daring, and skill — you have wrought into existence, or should anything prevent you from realizing every last fleeting zephyr of thought that may compel your actions, the firm hand of justice would strike down the forces that oppose you and leave you free to pursue happiness.
Those before us have been beaten, jailed, tortured, and killed to protect that idea, and it is because of them that the great American experiment continues to be the beacon of the free world.
Eternal vigilance truly is the price of liberty, and it is our turn to sit beside that Roman warrior outside of the National Archives and pick up the mantle of the always watchful soldier, guarding the sanctity and validity of our republic.