Guy W. Farmer: Election day: Grassroots democracy in action

I always look forward to working the polls on Election Day, not because I'm a political junkie (which I am), but because I see so many old friends and get to observe grassroots democracy in action. It's an opportunity to put my money where my mouth was when I explained and promoted American-style democracy while living and working in foreign countries for more than 20 years.

As Winston Churchill once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." Earlier, 19th century French historian Alexis deTocqueville sounded a cautionary note: "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."

DeTocqueville also explained the difference between democracy and socialism: Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man ... a mere number." Food for thought on Election Day.

When we returned to Nevada in early 1996 my late wife Consuelo and I soon volunteered as election workers in order to give back to the country that treated us so well while we were overseas. We worked elections every two years through 2002, when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (she died in February 2003), and I've continued to work the polls since then. As an assistant team leader, my primary job is to help voters cast their ballots. It's a nonpartisan day for me, and I love it.

My friends Carson City Clerk Alan Glover and Elections Supervisor Sue Merriweather always keep an eye on me to make sure that I behave myself, and so far I haven't had any complaints. I'll be at the Fuji Park Exhibits Hall bright and early on Tuesday morning to help you vote regardless of your party affiliation - Democrat, Republican or Whig. Come one, come all.

Although more than half of Carson City's eligible voters will have cast their ballots by the time the polls open on Tuesday morning, our politicians and their well-paid consultants continue to bombard us with millions of dollars worth of obnoxious TV ads and robocalls. Question: Why couldn't they have suspended those irritating ads and donated the money to alleviate the suffering of Superstorm Sandy victims, or projects to upgrade our nation's overcrowded and underperforming public schools? Just a thought ...

Usually, on the Sunday before Election Day, I urge everyone to go to the polls and cast their ballots. But if you're one of those potential voters more interested in the latest shenanigans of Honey Boo Boo or the Kardashians than you are in the looming fiscal crisis our nation faces at the end of the year, I think you should stay home on Tuesday. If you choose not to vote, however, I don't want to hear any complaining or whining about corrupt politicians and/or higher taxes.

If you don't exercise your constitutional right to participate in the electoral process, you should keep your mouth shut and get back to "American Idol" on the theory that ignorance is bliss. I'll see the rest of you at the polls.

• Guy W. Farmer has been a Carson City voter since 1962.


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