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Would You Risk Your Life to Vote?

By Doug Patton

January 31, 2005

Memo to all you whiners who either did not bother to vote, or who are still claiming that you were “intimidated” or “disenfranchised” during last November’s presidential election here in the U.S., simply because a poll worker dared to suggest that a responsible voter has to be registered and actually show up at the right polling place:


Iraqis currently living in the United States traveled hundreds of miles to cast absentee votes to elect their nation’s first-ever legitimate government. Smiles and thumbs-up were common from these people as they gladly climbed aboard buses for the privilege of going to a polling place many hours from their homes. Having tasted the fruits of the greatest nation on earth, it is clear they want the same for their war-torn homeland.

But the true inspiration came from the Iraqi people still living in the nation John Kerry dismissed as not worth the effort. Remember? Kerry called it “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.” (As if there is ever a wrong place or time to oppose tyranny and promote freedom.) In Iraq, voters young and old braved threats of death from the murdering terrorists the cynical American media insist on calling “insurgents.” Dozens of Iraqi patriots were murdered while attempting to exercise their right to vote.

And still they came, in percentages that should shame the slackers here in America who were more interested in “Survivor” and “American Idol” than in exercising their precious right to vote.

Although it no doubt disrupted their notion of how things ought to be, even the so-called mainstream media could not ignore the moving story of a free election in Iraq and the courageous people who made it happen. Since they usually revel in reporting on “the quagmire” that has become “George Bush’s Vietnam,” it must irk them no end to have to report that the efforts and sacrifice put forth by America is greatly appreciated by the brave Iraqis who have just elected their first government.

Even as blame-America-first liberals (best personified at the moment by Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer and John Kerry) do everything in their power to undermine the Bush Administration and to downplay this historic election, the people who actually lived under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein are thrilled at the privilege of participating in democracy.

Perhaps it is axiomatic that people will strive for that which is most elusive. This is especially true of liberty. Offer it to a people for the very first time and the human spirit will drive that population to risk life and limb for a taste of freedom. Offer the opportunity to preserve it to people who have never known tyranny and the response is tepid. No illustration of this is starker than the contrast between American elections and those in the freedom-starved nations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

There are those on the Left in America who, while basking in the freedom provided for them by Americans in uniform, are so blinded by their hatred of George W. Bush that they would prefer to see chaos instead of peace in Iraq. They are still so bitter over the president’s re-election that they refuse to rejoice with a liberated people embracing democracy at a crucial time in their nation’s history. Shame on these cynics for thinking so little of freedom, and for believing that people half a world away deserve it less than we do.

Doug PattonDoug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a speechwriter, policy advisor and communications director for federal, state and local candidates, elected officials and public policy organizations. His weekly columns are published in newspapers across the country and on selected Internet websites. Readers can e-mail him at dpatton@neonramp.com.



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