Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Now There Should Be 60% Less Griping
Published in The Signal, 11-13-2005.

Darryl Manzer, 2005     I voted. Did you? I know, you had some crazy initiatives on the ballot and some school board members to select, and I got to vote for bunches of people (if you consider politicians "people") — but did you exercise your right to gripe?
    Here in Virginia, almost 60 percent of the folks who could vote didn't. In your state, 60 percent didn't vote. That means you should hear 60 percent fewer gripes and complaints about the way government is working in California.
    I've always figured that unless I exercise my duty and right to vote, I can't exercise my right and duty to gripe and complain. It is that simple.
    In Iraq, more than 63 percent of the eligible people voted in their last election. They voted in spite of car bombs, bullets and all kinds of violence against them. Even in that war-torn country, folks went to the polls so they could gripe about the government.
    There should be a law that says that if you didn't vote in an election, you can't gripe or complain about the results. You'd have to wear a device or pin or something that lets everyone know you voted. If you were sitting in a bar and wanted to talk politics, you'd have to be wearing that device. If you spoke without having one, you could be thrown out of the place and your name would be listed in the newspaper as a "voting slacker." I'm even thinking maybe the police could arrest you and the fine would be $250. (All funds would go to the Home for the Aged Newspaper Columnists).
    You had some important college board elections, too. Well, 72.4 percent of you can no longer complain about the COC board of trustees because you didn't vote for or against any of them.
    You did slightly better with the Hart High School District board in voting, but still, 67.6 percent of you have lost your right to gripe about that board.
    Nope, you're left with griping about the weather — "Seventy-eight and sunny again! Will it ever end?" — or about your job. You can't gripe about traffic, either, since the roads are public property and thus a part of government.
    According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, only 39.6 percent of the eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots Tuesday. Iraq, Egypt, Bolivia, Columbia, Russia and just about every other odd-ball place you can think of have had better voter participation.
    Virginia wasn't any different.
    Here is some food for thought:
    * More than 2,050 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen of the United States and thousands of Iraqis have been killed in Iraq so that the people of that country can have free elections. The percentage of Iraqi citizens who voted in their last election was 22 percent higher than the percentage in our elections Tuesday.
    * Were you just too busy to vote? Didn't care about voting? Weren't interested? Didn't think the issues and people on the ballot affect you, so you stayed home? Maybe you just don't care.
    If you fit any of those categories, then maybe you should move someplace where your vote won't count. China, anyone?
    Way back when, in the late 1950s, my mother was elected to a seat on the Castaic Union School Board. She won election by just a few votes. Those few votes made a difference to her. It was one of the highlights of her all-too-short life. The election turnout was high. Everyone was voting.
    How many times can one vote make a difference? You never know. It may be the vote you cast in the next election. Until then, remember: If you didn't vote, your right to gripe is suspended until you vote in the next election.
    You want tax cuts? How about if you got a magnetic stripe card with a PIN number when you exited the polls? The card would allow you 10 percent off any tax you would pay in California. No matter what you buy, you'd get the tax cut until the next election. Maybe money in your pocket will get you to the polls.
    I doubt it would.
    I would really like it if fewer people were complaining about the government — not! But next time, let your complaints be heard in a way that counts. Get out and vote.
    One more sobering thought: The death rate from "gun violence" among our military in Iraq is 60 per 100,000. That same death rate measurement in Washington, D.C., is 80.6 per 100,000.
    This means you are 25 percent more likely to be shot and killed in Washington, D.C. — which has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the nation — than you are in Iraq.
    Maybe we should pull out of Washington, D.C.
    Now that I could vote "yes" for in a New York second.

    Darryl Manzer lived in the Santa Clarita Valley oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s as a teenager. He now lives in Virginia.

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