A decade ago in the Middle Eastern country of Iraq, as the country was in the midst of horror and chaos and where bombings were an everyday occurrence, parliamentary elections went forth. Americans marveled at the courage of everyday Iraqis who braved being blown up by incendiary devices to cast a ballot. Remember the purple fingers? Those who voted had their fingers dipped in purple ink as a sign that they had cast a ballot. Photos of Iraqis holding up those purple fingers became legend all across the globe. No matter the dangers or the hardships, Iraqis flocked to the polls to choose the direction of their country.
Many of those people walked miles to get to polling places, defying all odds thrown at them. It was an amazing display of national patriotism and pride.
Why is it then that just 10 years after marveling at the bravery of Iraqis are we cowering to the fear of a virus that has affected, percentage wise, a small portion of our population? Why is it that we are told we can go to Walmart and Lowe’s, as long as we wear masks, yet there is such a great push for mail-in ballots? Why can’t Americans go to the polls and wait in line — socially distanced, of course — to pick who will serve the next four years?
Now we are being told that voting in person is just too dangerous for us and that we have to inundate the postal service — an already near-bankrupt organization that has trouble delivering everyday mail on time let alone dealing with millions of ballots — with a responsibility it cannot handle?
Like most events, we have to believe it comes down to politics. Instead of learning lessons from a New York primary race — a primary in one district — that took weeks or months to decide a winner. Can you imagine the nightmare scenario that will unfold when the election is not decided on Nov. 3. It won’t be decided by Thanksgiving or even Christmas for that matter. Lawyers and special interests will pounce on undecided states in a way that will make the 2000 Gore-Bush debacle look like a Sesame Street episode. In such a divided nation, we cannot accept such.
We can learn so much from those Iraqis who just 10 years ago risked getting blown up — literally blown up — to cast a ballot, yet we seem to be incapable of waiting in line six feet apart while wearing a mask to decide the future of our country. If we can do it while buying Coca-Cola and Ring Dings from Walmart, why can’t we do it at a polling place?
As a nation, we are getting soft. Our enemies can see it. Everyone can see it. Fear is winning every day, aided along the way by an entire political party and a corrupt national media. While we are at it, let’s change Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous line, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” to “The only thing we have to fear is COVID-19 and a second term for Donald Trump.”