Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2019

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Where I Stand:

A word to the young: Vote!

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Steve Marcus

A woman writes on a “Why I Vote” wall before a rally for Democrat Jacky Rosen, Nevada candidate for Senate, at the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.

Don’t ask. Tell.

I have lived long enough to almost join what I have always called the elder statesman cohort. Loosely defined, that would be someone about my age who some think is past his prime, others believe is coming into his prime and I believe is at risk of being ignored by the very people who should be listening.

In short, I have learned a great deal during my life that should be part of tomorrow’s conversation. If it is true that the past is prologue, then I and others in my generation have much to contribute to the understanding of the newer generations.

The challenge is to get them to pay attention. This challenge is nothing new. It has always been that way. The young always think they know more and better than their parents and grandparents. That is why it is so important today, voting day for the 2018 midterm elections, that those of us who know better to say something. And, most importantly, to challenge the young ones in our circle of influence, to do something.

Like vote!

I think most people my age can agree that, regardless of our political affiliations and beliefs, the American democracy has never been on the brink of such fundamental change as it stands today.

For any number of reasons — good and bad — the body politic is restless in a way that threatens the very basic tenets of our democracy. The system of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers so carefully and painstakingly designed to keep the lid on the basest of human desires is fraying to the point that it could break.

That is because the Republican-controlled Congress — House and Senate — has been cowed by the president into submission to his will and not the will of the voters or the Constitution.

We need not look too far or too far back to understand what is happening in front of our disbelieving eyes. Just this past week, President Trump decided on his own that he would rewrite the 14th Amendment to the Constitution because he doesn’t like the idea — born of common sense, decency and a healthy dose of morality — that babies born on our soil are born American. Period.

Just a little more than a week ago 11 Jewish worshipers were massacred during religious services in Pittsburgh — the worst ever of a long list of anti-Semitic acts in the United States — and President Donald Trump seemed more worried about his bad hair day than the fact that ugly American bigotry and anti-Semitism was feeling more at home in Trumpworld than it has in almost a century.

A President Trump, who believes the U.S. armed forces are his armed forces and not those of the United States, has chosen to send up to 15,000 troops to the Mexican border in a show of force — and political theater — to scare some 5,000-8,000 or so mostly bedraggled, hungry and frightened women and children who are still 1,000 miles away and already scared — which is why they are running away from their war- and gang-torn homes in the first place. And there is barely a whimper from a Congress, which in normal times would be raising hell with anyone who acted as this president does.

This election has to be about putting the brakes on crazy, on delusion, on authoritarianism, on demagoguery and on everything else about this administration that reminds many of us too much of the run-up to Nazi Germany in the late 1920s.

The beauty of our country — of America — is that our problems are meant to be solved at the ballot box. That is what the Founding Fathers intended and, by and large, that scheme has worked for the first 240 years or so.

This is the first time that I can remember that the fabric of our democracy is being stretched to the point of tearing because many in our society are fearful and many others of our citizens are ambivalent.

Before people go nuts let me explain that I believe we can have tax breaks, protected borders and job growth without turning one citizen against another and one region of our country against another region. We can have smart trade practices with the rest of the world without turning an entire century of American leadership on its head, leaving our friends and allies questioning their own futures without a United States to rely upon.

So this isn’t an either or election. It is, though, an election to determine what kind of country the United States will be for the next generation. And if the people who will inherit the reins, the obligations and the responsibility of U.S. leadership — that would be our newest generation of American voters — don’t speak out now their futures will be written for them without their input and agreement.

That is why it is no longer appropriate for Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa to ask their kids and grandkids how they voted today. By that time it may be too late.

It is better to ask them today whether they will vote and, perhaps, how they will vote. That’s because our years of experience and collective wisdom might be a helpful guide to their own actions.

On second thought, forget all that. We don’t have the time to teach them before the polls close.

So, don’t ask your kids and grandkids to vote. Tell them.

Make them understand it is their future and the future of the United States that are at stake.

Tell them to vote. Make them good citizens today.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.