I was struck recently by an op-ed in The Sun that proclaimed "Voting is an exercise in futility" (Oct. 17). I disagree. It can be an exercise in frustration, maybe, but not futility. I learned this in 1956, when I was seven years old. My grandmother lived with us and greatly admired President Eisenhower. During the Republican National Convention, while my sister and brother were out playing, I sat with her and watched the entire even — from gavel to gavel.
While we were watching she said something that caught my attention more than anything else. She was 42 years old before she had the right to vote. Not until the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in August, 1920 (with Maryland as the 20th state approving it) could she have cast her ballot. She had already been married 20 years and given birth to five of her six children, the last being my mother.
Mom-Mom Foard gave one piece of strong advice while we sat in the den looking at the Admiral Television. "When you are old enough, never do not vote!"
I followed that advice and have voted in every election since 1970 — city elections, county and state elections, national elections, primary elections and special elections. The people I have voted for have not always won. The people I did not vote for have not always lost. Some for whom I did vote who won did not do a good job. Some for whom I did not vote and won have done a great job. But I still used my voice by voting.
In earlier days, I walked into a voting booth and closed the curtain. Later, I punched a hole (making a choice) in a voting card. Now, I touch a screen. I still vote.
There have been times when I left a particular office off my "wish list." Why? Neither candidate had convinced me they could do the job, and voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. But I still used my voice letting them know I voted everywhere else on the ballot, just not there.
So what do I suggest to be ready to vote? Do your homework. Do not just follow the media advertisements (of course no candidates are going to say bad things about themselves). Read about them; learn about their backgrounds, especially if they have never held office. If they have held office, discover what they did or did not do while in office.
Try not to let skepticism, cynicism or criticism dominate your entire decision. And try not to make it come down one issue. My wife, Melinda, and I understand that we don't agree on everything, political or otherwise, but we know we agree on most things — from raising children to a desire for peace and prosperity.
Finally if you do not believe any of the candidates from any of the parties could ever do the job, run for office yourself. Then you would truly understand the importance of what Mom-Mom said…always vote!
David R. Craig, a Republican, is Harford County executive. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.