Every November, millions of Americans fulfill an over 200-year-old civic duty: casting a ballot on Election Day. Like many of you, I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the voting booth as a young 18-year-old high school student. The fact that many of us remember the first time we voted just goes to show how serious Americans take this right and responsibility.
In the 1700’s, the Founding Fathers sent shockwaves across the world when they established our nation on the then-radical idea that the people – not kings or tyrants – should have the power to directly shape government. Little did they know, their experiment of creating a new system of government – one that is of, by, and for the people – would pave the way for the U.S. to become the greatest and freest country in the world.
But freedom isn’t free. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, freedom isn’t something that’s passed down to future generations through the bloodstream – it must be fought for. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have fought and died for our freedoms, from the WWII veterans who saved the U.S. and the entire free world from fascism, all the way back to the farmers, teachers, and blacksmiths who took up arms and defeated a far more advanced British Army in the Revolutionary War. We also owe it to the Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights movements, where innocent Americans were beaten, killed, and thrown in jail for fighting for their right to vote. Voting is a right that should never be taken for granted; there are millions of people across the world who are fighting and dying to secure this fundamental freedom.
Every single vote matters. In my first election to the Missouri General Assembly, I won one of our southern Missouri counties by a single vote. In 2020, one U.S. House election was decided by a total of 6 votes! Whether you’re a Democrat, Independent, or Republican – you should never expect others to carry the responsibility of voting for you. It’s your right as an American to express your will at the voting booth.
Elections have consequences. Whether it’s voting for someone who will represent you in city hall, the state legislature, Congress, or the White House, the decisions we make on Election Day directly impact our lives and nearly every aspect of society.
Democracy is the best form of government, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Our nation is made up of 331 million people who come from different backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs. But the vast majority of Americans – regardless of political affiliation – probably agree on about 80% of the issues and policies; our nation just seems more divided because the policies and issues that fall under the 20% are the ones that get all the attention. At the end of the day, we may disagree with our neighbors’ political views, but we wouldn’t hesitate to lend them a helping hand when they need it.
If you ever need more information about how and where to vote, what type of identification is needed, and more, you can contact our Secretary of State’s office at (573) 751-4936 or visit: https://www.sos.mo.gov/
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent – the most important thing is to exercise your right to vote. I hope you take that power and show up at the polls on Election Day.
U.S. Rep. Jason Smith is the area’s state representative for the 8th Congressional District