The Fight for Free and Fair Elections

I think we forget and take for granted how hard fought it has been to have that freedom

By Tom Horelick

A picture in the Beacon haunted me. It was rather benign and I didn’t think much of it at first. It accompanied an article about the high voter turnout and showed long lines of people patiently waiting to vote (up to three hours) in the Nov. 3 election.

As I read more of the day’s news, I thought back to that photo and what it meant, and how powerful it actually was. Everyone showing up to exercise their freedom, casting their one precious vote; no more – no less. After months of political blabber and millions and millions of dollars wasted on campaign ads to sway our opinion, it all boiled down to each of us and our individual ballot.

I think we forget and take for granted how hard fought it has been to have that freedom; and reflecting on the course of history and looking at the world today, how lucky we are. As I read the paper that day, Veterans Day, Nov. 11, which is a day we honor all veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve and protect our democracy, I thought of the photo and what this country is all about.

Then I also read the day’s news of President Donald Trump’s shenanigans to somehow think he can hang on to his presidency by derailing the election by false claims, lies, and sucking gutless flunkies like Montana Sen. Steve Daines into his orbit. It absolutely disgusted me!

It may be a bit abstract, but being something of a World War II buff, of all our wars, that one was probably the most black and white of what we fought for. America saved the planet from despots and tyrannical rule. What if we lost? Would there be a line at the Flathead County courthouse of citizens, free to cast their single ballot for the candidate of their choice? I think not.

As winter moves into western Montana, I always think of the Battle of the Bulge, which began in mid-December 1944. Against unbelievable odds, our troops defeated the Germans in their last gasp toward victory. I wonder if some G.I., literally freezing to death in a foxhole, with his ration of 10 rounds of ammo, would know 76 years later there would be a president of the United States doing everything he can to unravel a free election. That battle could have very easily had a different outcome if it weren’t for the courage of those soldiers of which I’m in awe of, and makes me thankful and proud of what our country stands for today.

That simple photo said a lot.

Tom Horelick lives in Libby.

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