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Dear Mr. Keillor, I need

August 25, 2004 |

Dear Mr. Keillor,
I need some unbiased advice. I turned eighteen last December, so this is my first chance to vote. Problem: I don't want to.

I'm an independent, so I have no party line to follow, and neither of the presidential candidates appeals to me personally. I'd rather leave it to people who at least think they know who ought to be in charge. Would that be so unpatriotic?

Thanks for the advice,
Jenn

Jenn,
Election Day is such a sweet day in America, Iíd hate for you to miss out on it. After all the tumult and commercials and people yammering on the radio, that lovely Tuesday dawns and suddenly the country is intensely quiet. You go to your polling place and the election judges sit behind their long table and check off the names and accept your registration and everyone talks in whispers. All over the country, millions of your fellow citizens are deep in thought. Itís solemn and inspiring. Youíre right that most people follow a party line and vote almost by reflex, but for many Americans, the walk to the polls is a soul-searching time. Think of how many men and women have died in the struggles to win this simple right to have a voice in selecting who will govern your country. Of course, democracy wonít perish simply because you and millions of others donít cast a ballot. This year, I believe, the issues are so clear and important that voter turn-out will be high, especially if the race for president continues to be so tight. I just think youíre missing out on a big experience if you donít stand in line and cast your ballot. It gives you a personal stake in what happens in the next four years. And of course it gives you the right to complain about politicians, which is a great pleasure in life.

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