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FIRST-PERSON: The value of a vote

DENVER (BP)–Vote, vote, vote — you have heard the exhortation innumerable times. You have received campaign calls and mailings relaying pleas for help. And you have seen negative ads on TV that may have left you dismayed.

All this may have left you inclined not to vote. Why bother after all you’ve seen and heard? “Who is going to miss my one vote?” you may be asking.

Judging from the margins of our last election, the power to change history may be within your grasp. OK, that may sound a bit much, but when you view the evidence of history, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

Think about the one person who voted all these events into the history books:

— In 1801, one vote in the U.S. House broke the tie between presidential candidates Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Burr was later charged with treason!

— In 1839, one vote made Marcus Morton governor of Massachusetts and earned him the nickname “Landslide.”

— In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from being removed from office by impeachment.

— During the American Revolution, anti-British sentiment was high in many colonies. A bill was presented to the Continental Congress which would have abolished English as the official American language in favor of German. The bill was defeated by one vote. Aren’t you glad we aren’t speaking a language that is less than international?

The history of our country has been made by one vote over and over again. Likewise in other countries:

— Oliver Cromwell won control of England in 1645 when Parliament voted 91-90 in his favor.

— King Charles I was beheaded on the basis of the judges’ vote of 68-67.

— France changed from a monarchy to a republic in 1875. The vote of the deputies was 353 to 352.

— On Nov. 8, 1923, the leaders of the tiny Nazi party met in a Munich tavern and elected Adolf Hitler as their leader — by a margin of one vote. A disastrous world war might have been averted if that group had elected a different man!

When we vote for a presidential candidate who will have the power to influence the course of world events, we actually are voting for our future. So when you ask yourself, “Who really needs my vote?” — the answer especially this year is, your family does, as do families across our country and, indeed, around the world.
Michael Romero oversees the bilingual ministries of Riverside Baptist Church in Denver.

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  • Michael Romero