Commissioners Corner: Everyone’s vote counts
Like many Americans, I went to bed Tuesday evening thinking I knew which candidate would soon sit as our next president. Wednesday morning, a dark cloud of uncertainty sits over the election. A very small number of votes in a single state is going to decide the race for the most powerful position on the planet. Certainly, the campaign was expected to be close, but we’re living through an event that will be often referenced in the history of our democracy. Two years ago, as many of us vividly recall, a Nevada United States Senate seat was decided by a few hundred votes. I’m feeling pretty smug about the importance of my single vote right about now, a sensation I’ve never had before.
With the frenzy of our daily activities, we don’t have time to digest how far democracy has really come. In fact, in the span of most of our lives, the greatest mass liberation in history has taken place. China, with 1.2 billion people; India with 1.2 billion; African countries, with 732 million; the Soviet states, with 275 million; Indonesia, with 206 million; and more achieved democratic independence. Among these, one of the most formidable, armed-to-the-teeth, totalitarian empires the world has ever known dissolved itself of its own volition because nobody, not even its rulers, believed in it anymore.
I’m sure a lot of folks get quite a laugh watching us politicians view for your votes every couple of years. Once in a while, I can even laugh at myself. Democracy can be a difficult master, maybe even most difficult of all, at the local level. Local politicians haven’t the filter of distance the 11 miles from here to Carson City gives, nor the shadow of protection cast by complicated parliamentary machinations in Washington. Our “warts” are often awkwardly visible to everyone, and I will forever have immense admiration for anyone who participates in our democracy by running for office. Make no mistake, asking for your vote is a humbling experience, and your vote matters.
Imagine being in either Al Gore’s or George W. Bush’s shoes right about now, and what they think they might have done differently for our votes. You better believe your vote matters. Paul Laxalt lost first and later won a Nevada Senate seat, both by less than a few hundred votes. In 1923, Adolf Hitler took leadership of the Nazi Party by one vote. In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president by one vote. Andrew Jackson, in 1865, was not impeached by one vote. Texas, by one vote in 1845, was made part of the union. Charles I of England was, by one vote in 1649, executed – now, that’s serious politics. Imagine what he would have done for one vote!
n Jacques Etchegoyhen represents county commission district 2.