On July Fourth, What to Get a Nation That Has Everything

It’s simple: Your vote!

(Provided you are a US citizen of legal age.)

Have you registered to vote? If not, do so here, it’s simple and easy.

If you are registered to vote, then check your registration to make sure it’s current. This is also (usually) simple and easy.

This year voting may be more difficult than usual because of the coronavirus and/or governments trying to restrict ways for certain people to vote. So be sure to know the procedures for absentee, mail-in and early voting in your state. The earlier you know this stuff, the better you prepare to get your vote in on time.

Finally, check with friends and relatives and other people you might know to encourage them to vote, to check their registration status, and to prepare for absentee/mail-in voting if necessary. The 2020 elections are an “all hands on deck” sort of historical moment, folks. We need every US citizen who can vote, to vote.

Happy July 4th!

25 Comments on “On July Fourth, What to Get a Nation That Has Everything”

  1. If you don’t believe that every vote counts, you haven’t been paying attention. Not you John, other peeps.

  2. Slight addendum: if you are a US citizen of legal age who is eligible to vote. Some people aren’t, and the cost for voting when you weren’t supposed to can result in years in prison, even if you were told that it would be okay and you cast a provisional vote with the blessing of the officials at the polls. *heavy sigh*

  3. It is not America and not 2020.
    If you have the right to vote, exercise it. Always.
    Remember that, not too long ago, only men could be allowed to vote.
    And at one point, only those with land could vote.
    And even before, the only ones who could make or break your ruler were called The Praetorian Guard, because they were the only one to have a voice in who they were guardians of.

    Never forget that vote was for long not considered a right. All too often, it was a privilege. And even today, it is just that, for far too many on this earth. You can vote? Others, right now, are not allowed to.

    (plus, if you don’t vote, don’t complain about what happens to you)

  4. I couldn’t agree more…thank you for using your platform to spread such an important message. When I urge people to register to vote, I share with them my firm belief that it is our Super Power. Each eligible voter has one vote. (We can quibble about the electoral college resulting in votes from different states having differential impacts, but stay with me here.) I have one vote, a Koch brother has one vote…and you, my unregistered eligible voter, has one vote. The Koch brothers hate that part and try to do everything they can to suppress that single vote. Even with all their money, they still get that single vote. VOTE!

  5. I’ve been sending out PSA-style emails to everyone in my email contacts list who lives in my state with detailed instructions, including links, for how to register to vote online, how to request an absentee ballot online, when to expect to receive your absentee ballot, what must be done in order for the ballot to be counted, when it is due back to the county clerk’s office and how much mailing time to allow for it to get there. Plus links to my state’s LWV website that has more info, including candidate responses to questions.

    I have a pair of 30-something kids who have voted in every election since they turned 18, and who regularly cajole and badger their friends to vote. I have a niece who turned 18 last winter, who started working as a polling place volunteer when she turned 16 and who collected up a bunch of her friends for an Election Day party on Primary Day this past spring before the lockdown, culminating with a group visit to the polling place to cast their ballots.

    We take voting deadly serious in my family, because that’s exactly what it is. Every email I send on the subject ends with the same paragraph:

    Please vote. I cannot even begin to explain how essential it is. The current mess going on right now is thanks in large part to voters who stayed home in November 2016. Don’t be one of them. Vote in this election. Vote in every election. Vote as if your life depended on it, because it does. And a lot of other people’s lives depend on it, too.

  6. @ Vincent, Sure our ancestors tried to link evidence of responsibly to voting. In theory that is noble, but practise such things could be ignobly used to deny votes to minorities. The safest thing, in practise, is to give any warm body the vote.

    It was after reflecting on the smart people in the White House, including Nobel prize winning Kissinger, that someone told me the public is the safest, though maybe not the wisest, repository of power. (I personally thought K had worse character than his boss Nixon)

    Another practise is to link voting to age. In my lifetime I have seen voting go from 21 to 18 to 16 for a grave vote in Scotland. No doubt my grandchildren will condemn me for “being of a time” when voting was so high, and say I should have known better.

    Maybe, maybe not. Our ancestors set the vote at 21 because while children are expected to submit to, and recite, what they read, it takes years to learn to think after each full stop. I got that idea through de Tocqueville from media and education expert Neil Postman in his book The Disappearance of Childhood.

    We can’t know what our ancestors would have thought of a democracy based on moving pictures. I try to balance my TV with reading, but of course I wouldn’t dare suggest anyone else read, although I guess I’m happy if they do so.

  7. Long time fan in post-op recovery and reading new and old. For what it’s worth, here is my email tag line:


    I don’t care who you vote for, but please thank me, a Vet, by voting and speaking your mind respectful of others.

    Are you willing to die to preserve someone else’s right to be wrong? If not, don’t whine about what others do with their freedom. Since when does your freedom include risking my life?
    The national anthem isn’t “ . . . home of the secure, and land of the fearful.”
    Please enjoy your 4th all, with a quick nod to those who no longer can.


    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
    – Emma Lazarus

  9. In theory, citizenship should be an all-year-round thing. Hard to do. I suppose the periodic effort to vote makes a person then more likely all year to make an effort.

    On a web note, although I respect street kids using code names, and Buffy the slayer calling herself Ann, I try to call myself Sean Crawford, as being now a real adult, who can afford a warm roof.

    Problem is, I have just switched to WordPress, which has me use a codename above, “seanslug,” as the default for all comments, before I changed it back. Sorry.

    I wonder if that explains some of the names I see here. I try not to be judgemental.

  10. Vincent Archer,

    Oof, this is tough because I definitely agree with the thrust of your argument (vote!). But.

    First, sadly, at least where I am it is America. Even more sadly, it’s America in 2020.

    We must remember that voting was always considered a right. Not a privilege, it was absolutely a right. Who had the franchise, well, that was a privilege, but the idea that landed men should be able to vote for their representation — well, that’s just the way God ordained things, right? Nobody else mattered. Voting has always been the right of people who mattered.

    I just want to push back on the idea that people who don’t vote are letting down our democratic system — one of our parties has consistently worked for decades now to prevent poor and brown communities from being able to vote. And they’re really good at it. Blaming people who have to wait in 5 hour lines (hey! I’m a white guy and have never waited more than 20 minutes to vote — I’m pretty sure that’s not a coincidence) for making a fairly obvious determination that their political system doesn’t care about them, and making pretty reasonable decisions about their actual lives (re: caring for their children/getting enough sleep to work the the next day/etc.) seems, shall I say, unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong, I wish they voted more! But, then I don’t have kids and two jobs, so I ain’t gonna give ’em crap for that. The sad fact is that poor, brown people are second class citizens simply by virtue of their ability to vote (not to mention issues of policing, tax policy, etc.).

    Real talk: I’m a fiftyish guy and I’ve never had a job (in my voting age life) where I couldn’t just say to my boss “Hey, I’m going to go vote” and be gone for an hour or so. Real, real talk — I never said that! I just went and voted. Among us well-to-do white guys, it was just understood, that’s what we did. I guess you can infer from that information that I haven’t worked a job that was paid by the hour since I was of voting age. Again, this may be instructive.

    I guess all of this is just to say that I find the idea that “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain” to be fatuous. There are really many reasons why someone might not vote. State legislatures around the country are working hard to increase the possibility that those reasons might apply to certain individuals. None of those reasons will ever target me, a well-off white dude in the suburbs.

    PS The Praetorian Guard? Yeah,I get the reference, but…are you okay?

  11. Checked everything about a week ago (because I knew my info was for my last address) and ready to go. And even though I’m old fashion in this sense, I usually want to vote in person (I actually look forward to standing in line, at least a moderately sized one) and making my voice heard, but this year is different and I decided to vote mail-in. Plus! I signed up to work a polling place (if possible). So, I’m ready! Although, thank you, John for the reminder to people who haven’t done so already.

    A quick story, had a coworker (ex now because you know that little thing called unemployment) taking a political science class and told me he got really interested in all of it. So I talked to him about how important it was to vote and everything. About a few weeks before the shut down, I asked him if he was registered and he said he was and thanked me for the talk. I feel pretty good about that.

  12. wake up call:
    #RealDead (C19 & BLM & toxic dumping due to EPA cuts)
    #FakePOTUS (golf & tear gas & upside down bible thumping)

  13. Oh, please, please, PLEASE vote!

    I’ve been hoping that sanity would break out south of the border for the past 1,628 days.

    I’ve been fearing that anti-democratic forces would hand the election to Trump.

    Please. Make the election as lopsided as the election of 1972. Or 1984. But also please: make the map’s colour blue, not red, this time!

  14. Yes, voting is very important and a responsibility as a citizen. But I also believe that it is very important for all voters to be knowledgeable and informed on all issues that are involved in voting .. whether it be for a president, a local sheriff or a tax issue to support local street maintenance. The challenge these days is obtaining reliable news about the issues at stake in the election. I suspect that purely local issues being voted upon are likely to have reliable information available. As the voting issues move to state and especially national levels … the news and information on the issues and candidates becomes murky, partial or just plain intentionally wrong. It behooves voters to become educated as best they can, from multiple sources and carefully filtering out opinions from facts based news to form their own voting decisions.However, I suspect most voters do not take their voting responsibility seriously or even recognize it as a responsibility.

  15. Voting is compulsory where I am. Everyone 18+ is required by law to be on the electoral roll and to vote in elections at all levels of government. Inevitably a small number of informal votes (i.e. spoiled ballots) are cast. The vast majority, however, choose their first party preferred, then distribute their other preferences accordingly.

    It’s quite a change to go from “don’t vote; it only encourages them”, or “there’s no point; my candidate cannot win”, or “I don’t like any of these people!”, or tragically, “everything is set up to make it as hard as possible for me to vote” to “GET YA BUTT TO THE POLLING PLACE, OR WE’LL FINE YA!”

    Side note: I’m an adult, as attested by my birth certificate, honest! I’d be delighted to post under my RealName™. I don’t, for the same reason I went from a surname-and-first-initial listing in the phone book to no listing at all. These days a woman’s privacy can be violated in ways that those old-time heavy-breathing obscene phone callers never even dreamed of.

  16. Translation:

    I’m here to regurgitate the racist, conservative-born myth of the black and brown voter as a “low information” voter and to whine about how those mean ole mainstream media outlets report on conservative antics.

    The bottom line is that, for the most part, conservatives are evil people who are going to use every trick in the book to prevent communities they hate from unseating them.

    They’ll stop at nothing to turn America into an RSHD’s wet dream, up to and including allowing a deadly, contagious disease to ravage the population and launching a full-scale race war if their incumbent loses the election.

    Still, nice try; shrouding your advocacy for Jim Crow era poll tests in a whiny complaint about the evils of the liberal media is something I haven’t seen in a while. 😊

  17. RSHD? Remote Shell Daemon (computer science)? Urban Dictionary, usually so helpful, comes up empty. ^_^

  18. Hi Shrinking Violet, I was on the phone long distance to my sister last night, and like you she pointed out the importance of “mouth breathers” on the web. She also pointed out the dangers of “cancel culture” where people gang up on you, unethically, and even visit your house.

    I said ya, such antics are why a patriot would rather go into business than go into politics. If the American people are unworthy of you, then there’s no point in sacrificing for them.

  19. @Shrinking Violet:

    RSHD or, racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit, is John’s acronym for a certain author/troll/bitter, bitter enemy who has and continues to projectile vomit far, far right rhetoric all over the internet.

    I’ve invoked him once but won’t do so again, as he or one of his minions may appear and get noxious green slime all over John’s nice comments section.

    Also, to be clear, the scorn above was for Gary, not you.

  20. “The challenge these days is obtaining reliable news about the issues at stake in the election.”

    That’s really not a challenge. Reliable news about issues at stake in the election are readily available from any major network, plus a plethora of independent news sources.

    Those with a modicum of intelligence can extract facts even from the most biased reporting. Facts may come seasoned in heavy layers of opinion, but they remain facts. Fox News and MSNBC report on the same events, they just put a different spin on them. National- and state-level issues get better coverage than local ones. Digging may be required to figure out more about issues on local-level ballots.

    Whiny and insecure individuals can opt to ignore or disregard facts because facts don’t fit their sad, ignorant worldview. For them, it becomes important to try to obscure these facts with squeals to “consider multiple sources”. Fortunately or unfortunately, reality doesn’t care about spin.

  21. @Sarah Marie:

    Aha! I’ve lurked around these parts for long enough that I really ought to have deciphered that acronym on my own.


    Too right. I can scarcely imagine how much fortitude a person needs to submit to “candidate-for-public-office” level of scrutiny. A few commenters on Mr Scalzi’s American flag post gave reasons for hesitation about open displays of partisanship; I tend to agree with them.

  22. I have my absentee ballot for the August primary, and should get the one for November. I am quite lucky – in Minnesota you can request an absentee ballot without giving a reason. I will vote to put out the Dumpster FIre, AND I get to vote to amend the City Charter to abolish the police department.

  23. Learned a new one today. RSHD. My poor brain turned it into RSHA which still met the whole “wet dream” Component. Reich Sicherheit Haumpt Amt.(Himmler’s central security office). Scary place, this old world.

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