Outside of the Bluegrass State, the death of former Kentucky United States Senator Walter D. Huddleston earlier this month didn’t register many headlines. The 92-year-old broadcaster-turned-legislator, ill for several years, passed away quietly in his sleep.
First elected to the United States Senate in 1972, Huddleston, a moderate Democrat, eventually lost his bid for reelection in 1984 when a 44-year-old Republican judge named Mitch McConnell narrowly defeated him in a hotly fought contest.
Narrowly defeated is an understatement.
Out of nearly 1.3 million votes cast on November 6, 1984, McConnell edged the incumbent Huddleston by a mere 5,169 votes – less than a 0.5% margin of victory.
Thirty-four years ago, it would have been impossible for those Kentucky voters to have foreseen the impact their vote would have on the history of the United States.
But looking back today, the consequences of that single senatorial election cannot be overstated.
Without Senator Mitch McConnell residing as Senate Majority Leader, there may well be no Justice Gorsuch or, likely, Justice Kavanaugh, and the current narrative concerning the trajectory of the United States Supreme Court might be very different.
That’s because of all his decisions in his 34-year Senate career, arguably Senator McConnell’s most consequential one was his announcement during the winter of 2016 that, citing the “Biden Rule,” the GOP would not be acting on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
That decision, debated and decried by liberals for the last two years, nevertheless reminds us that, to quote President Obama, “Elections have consequences.”
History often turns on the hinges of seemingly very small things, including potentially your single vote this coming Tuesday.
Yet, despite the record campaign spending and voter registration efforts, less than half of America’s registered voters will cast a ballot on November 6th.
Busyness. Indifference. Distraction. Or even the faulty logic that their one vote wouldn’t make a difference.
It’s just not true.
Last year in Ohio, 25 local races resulted in either a tie or a single difference.
Or how about this curious quirk of history:
In 2011, Harold Hopkinson defeated his opponent by a single vote for the village board in the town of Manlius, New York. It turns out one of the voters in the election had submitted an absentee ballot – but died prior to the election. The New York State Supreme Court allowed the ballot.
Every vote matters!
History often rests in the hands of ordinary citizens, especially when it comes to electoral politics and the hard-fought privilege we have to cast our vote each election.
It was Plato who aptly said that “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
Or to be even more candid, “Elections belong to the people,” said Abraham Lincoln. “It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
Please remember to vote on November 6th. If you are looking for some guidance on your ballot, I invite you to visit our website commit2vote2018.com, which includes links to state voter guides, as well as a family election kit (get the kids involved!) and a prayer guide designed to help you lift up our nation.