Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 31, 2014

You voted for whom?

View From The Cheap Seats

William O. "Bill" James, Jr.

It’s been over 30 years since I voted for the first time. I still remember the excitement I felt going into the booth for the first time. I’d be lying if I said it was more exciting than getting my driver’s license, but I’d say it was a close second. Voting is something I’ve tried to do whenever given the chance. I’ve always figured that, if you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain. Since I like to complain, I like to vote.

I’d like to say I’ve always been an informed voter. Unfortunately, I’ve voted on a few races and ballot initiatives of which I knew nothing. I’m not proud of this, but I’d say few of the people reading this can honestly say they’ve never done the same.

You show up at the polls thinking you’ve covered all of the issues and know what you’re doing, but then something or someone you might have heard about but really don’t know well enough to talk about intelligently pops up on the screen. You can skip it or vote. I usually vote.

As I’ve aged, these less than informed votes have become less and less common.

Have you ever really considered why you vote the way you do? Do you simply vote for the person you like the most? Is your vote the same as if the candidate was running for student body class representative of your 5th grade class? Do you vote for the person that’s most popular? Do you vote for the person you think is going to win? Do you vote for a person based on his or her race or sex?

Let me ask it this way: If given the choice of voting for a candidate that was the most qualified and overall best for society, or another candidate whose only redeeming value was that he’d make your life better, for whom would you vote? Put simply, is your vote for you or for everyone? It’s something to think about, and certainly something to consider before making a choice in the booth.

As election day is upon us, take your vote seriously. Try to educate yourself on the candidates and the issues before you go in. Consider what the real reason is you feel the need to vote one way or the other. Recognize why you’re voting the way you’re voting, and make sure you’re comfortable with your reasons. Voting is your individual right, and you owe it to yourself to take your vote seriously.

Make sure you make it to the polls Tuesday and vote your conscience. That way, you can feel good about your vote and will be free to complain if things don’t go the way you think they should. Feeling good and having the right to complain is good for everybody, especially of those of us way up in the CHEAP SEATS!

Bill James is criminal defense attorney and co-owner of the James Law Firm, with offices in Little Rock, Conway, and Fayetteville. He once sat in a tub of jello and sang the Arkansas fight song every five minutes for 8 hours trying to win a trip to Breckenridge, Colo. He got second place and received two nights at a DoubleTree Hotel in Tulsa, Okla. He can be reached at bill@jamesfirm.com.