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This is, of course, a most progressive publication, as it name proclaims. But I'm making an effort to reach out, across the full spectrum and great divide of American political sensibilities.

Voting Required by Law

Places are on fire. We have no time for Nero talking about his fiddle, which he doesn't seem to know how to play, whomever you presume to be Nero.

  • Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post asked a TV host this morning, "Is it okay to say this?" before noting, "the average American is pissed-off at Congress."
  • Former Senator Bob Dole is disgusted that the House of Representatives under Speaker John Boehner is hopelessly dysfunctional and intransigently resistant to getting organized enough to do anything in the face of crisis.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry just expended way too much time and effort and American prestige brokering a little bitty 72-hour cease fire between Israel and Gaza that immediately collapsed, after only 90 minutes.

Of course there's more throughout the world. Russia. Ukraine. Top AIDS researchers killed in a shot-down airliner. Ebola getting out of Africa. Pacific island nations going underwater.

The corollary: Don't vote, and you lose your license to scream, throw temper-tantrums, moan, complain and pontificate as a caller on talk radio.

But it all comes back to the same thing: If we can't fix our own House, how can we have the credibility to fix anyone else's?

So here's the most ridiculously simple fix-it you'll read all day, though there's a bit more to it than it seems. Ready? Here it is:

We need an "all-in" election in this country in November. Everybody votes if they want to talk about anything contentious, ever again, anything that matters for the future.

The corollary: Don't vote, and you lose your license to scream, throw temper-tantrums, moan, complain and pontificate as a caller on talk radio.

About anything.

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And everybody enforces it. Democrats. Republicans. Progressives. Conservatives. Teabaggers. Good-government advocates. No government advocates. Minimum-wage-increase advocates. Reproductive rights advocates. Health-care-for-everyone advocates. For-profit-health-care-for-none-but-the-rich advocates. Equal-pay-for-women advocates. Misogynists. Gender bigots. Those who want to protect workers' rights to organize. Those who want to abolish worker rights and disenfranchise unions. Independents of whatever inclination. Everybody.

Truly, everybody. All-in.

Here's the catch. It's an all-in agreement, shared by all, on just one thing: If somebody doesn't vote in November, we all agree to shroud them: Ignore their opinions like they're dead. They can admire the clouds. They can contemplate lawns dying in the drought or observe record rains and flooding basements -- caused by global climate change -- and whether or not they deny the cause is of no interest anymore, to any of us.

Because they don't get to tell us their opinion of why it happened, after choosing not to be there to do anything about it.


All -- the truly inclusive "all" of us -- must tell them, "Take part or shut up."

Apply it to Boehner and his ridiculous lawsuit: do something constructive or get out. Stop wasting everybody else's time with mindless contrarianism. Move over for somebody who wants to do something, somebody who recognizes that we urgently must do something. About a lot of things.

It's way past time to stop piddling around. Elected officials who waste taxpayer time and money as obstructionists? Rich people who think their money gives them the power to exclude things from your health care? Rich people who feel entitled to buy politicians and outcomes of elections? Moron citizens who want to openly arm themselves to the teeth and make confrontational intimidating remarks to anyone who disagrees with them?

There is a solution to all of it. It's called your vote in the ballot box. And it's called the end of tolerance for anyone who wants to scream and throw trash from the sidelines and stay on the sidelines.

This is not a spectator sport. Want the politicians to do something? It starts with you. If they won't do anything, you must. Do something. Suit up. Learn the plays. Pay attention. Watch for trick plays and cheating. Demand the refs are honest, and watch them. Take the field. Be a gladiator for democracy.


Vote. Or stop talking -- anyplace where the rest of us would still be able to hear you.

Larry Wines