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Rights and responsibilities

Posted: June 5, 2014 9:38 a.m.
Updated: June 6, 2014 5:00 a.m.

This election year is certainly shaping up to be an interesting one in Kershaw County, including, and in some cases especially, next week in the primary. Several races will be determined on Tuesday, as all the candidates for those particular offices represent the same political party. Whoever wins Tuesday will have no competition in the November general election, so they’ll already know what they’ll be doing the next few years. Well, let’s hope they’ll know what they’re doing.

I think it’s safe to say one of the biggest races Tuesday is for Kershaw County Sheriff. Incumbent Sheriff Jim Matthews and challenger David Thomley are both Republicans and there is no Democratic candidate on the ballot. Tuesday’s primary is the election for sheriff. And that brings me to a point that makes me question our traditional, two-party system.

When you go to the polls on Tuesday, you’ll have to ask for either a Republican or a Democratic ballot. Obviously, if you want to vote on the sheriff’s race you’ll have to choose Republican, even if that goes against your normal habit or mindset or morals. I know that’s how it is and has always been, but it just doesn’t seem right to not allow everyone the choice of the candidates they want to vote for from either party. I know, that’s why we have the general election in November, but what if you are interested in some Republican races, like the one for sheriff, but are also interested in other races between Democratic candidates? You have to choose which party’s races mean the most to you.

The Kershaw County ballots for next Tuesday are heavily Republican, with more candidates on the Republican side than on the Democratic side, so for me it’s not a hard choice of which ballot to ask for. You certainly may have your own opinion on that.

I have gone a little bit adrift here from the main point I had in mind when I started writing this. I wrote the headline first, as I often do, so I’ll get back to that. We are supposed to be “a government of the people, for the people and by the people” and, thankfully, it works that way most of the time. Our government is made up of citizens from various locations and walks of life. Some politicians came up more privileged than some of the rest of us, but isn’t that how it is in school, in business, in life?

Rights and responsibilities. A rather simple phrase. To me it means those of us of a legal age to do so have the right to choose who leads us, as long as we haven’t offended society so badly that we’ve had that right taken away. I’m talking about criminals here. It’s a powerful thing to have a choice in who is responsible for our futures, at every level of government from the local town council all the way to the White House. There are many countries that don’t have this system. We used to be governed by a monarchy, but we got fed up with that nonsense and did something about it some 238 years ago. We ran the king’s men clean out of town, out of the county, out of the state and all the way out of our new country.

So now we have the right to choose, but with that also comes the responsibility to make those choices. We’ve all heard some people say they don’t vote because their vote doesn’t matter. They absolutely could not be more wrong, especially at the local and county level. Every vote does count. We’ve also heard that if you don’t vote, don’t complain later about leadership you disagree with and see as poor. You could have voted for someone else, but did you? You could have made a difference, but did you? You also could have gone along like a sheep, uninterested in even knowing who is running for which office and why they should or should not be elected and bothering to vote, but did you? I hope not.

I don’t care who you vote for on Tuesday. I’m already pretty sure who I’m going to vote for, but another great thing about our process is we vote with secret ballots and that’s how mine is going to stay. In this issue of the C-I, we have printed candidates responses to questions we sent them. Take a few minutes to read them over, a few more minutes to think them over and then a few minutes Tuesday to step into a voting booth and make your voice heard. It’s the American way.

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