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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

This Election Day comes with bigger stakes than most

More than anything else, casting a vote is an act of optimism. There’s a candidate you like or an issue you care about. You check the box and hope your side wins. If they don’t, you get to try again next time.

That simple idea beat King George. It has fueled a country based on ideas and ideals, rather than bloodlines and violence. We have never fully lived up to those ideas and ideals. But we have survived 246 years on the belief that the most important currency in our system is not the dollar but the vote.

This Tuesday, on Election Day, we can use that vote to elect officials from the Soil and Water Conservation Board to the U.S. Senate.

But on this particular Election Day, we should vote with not just optimism, but with defiance.

We should show up at the polls to sweep out the debris of those who don’t believe in democracy anymore.

We should stand in line to stop those who want to stop others from voting.

We should cast our ballots to defeat those who want to game the system, to deny the election deniers.

This election is not just about who gets to serve on the school board or wear a judge’s robe. It’s about the threat to our right to choose those things in free and fair elections and to have the losers give way to the winners in a peaceful transition.

In some ways, it feels strange to have to advocate for such obvious things, 246 years down the road. But all you have to do is glance around the globe to see other places where democracy is falling apart, or gone altogether.

A vote is one of the most powerful weapons ever invented. That’s why so many weak people are so afraid of it.

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Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.