It’s election day in my state.  We are voting for a supreme court justice and for local officials.  It’s a work day, and it’s a rainy day, and it is “just” a local election.  So we’ll be lucky to get forty percent of the population to vote.

A few weeks ago, a bunch of high school kids from Florida got more than a million people to go out and march for their cause.  Not long afterward, a TV commentator asked a panel what effect these young people would have.  The answer:  long term, not much.  They would all go out and march, and then we would go back to the complacency of our private lives.

We, the people, who are the real substance of the United States of America, are suffering the diminishment, and ultimately the loss, of those ideals that define and justify our existence as a nation and a beacon to the world.  We are doing it by dribs and drabs.  Like the old (and apparently untrue) story of how to boil a frog, we are gradually allowing the slow boiling off of the rights that support those defining ideals:  the right to vote, the right to free speech, the right of all people to those things necessary to the promotion of universal life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

How do we stop this slow drift away from our ideals?  By getting off our dead butts and taking real steps to preserve them.  The very first of those steps is to vote.  That means identifying candidates who are genuinely committed to promoting our ideals.  She or he may be a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent.  The party doesn’t matter.  The person does matter.  The dedication of the person to our goals, our real goals, and not her or his own interests — that matters.  And, by the way, maybe you are just the person we need to run for office.  If so, run for office.

There are many other things that we can do.  Write letters.  Speak out.  Visit our legislators.  Organize groups.  Join or create discussion groups.  All of that, however, derives its value from the ultimate act of democracy, the vote.

Vote.  Promote voting.  Encourage voting.  Demand that voting be easier to do.  Demand that government encourage voting.  Remember the frog.  Feel the heat.  Vote.