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OUR VIEW: Get government you deserve by casting a ballot

The philosopher Joseph de Maistre wrote in 1811 that "Every nation gets the government it deserves."

He was a defender of monarchical government, so it's doubtful he meant his statement to be taken the way some interpret it today.

As applied to democratic societies, the statement is sometimes interpreted to mean that if the populace is disengaged from politics, the result is probably a dysfunctional government. Conversely, if the populace is highly engaged, the government will probably be effective and responsive. Either way, the resulting government is exactly what the people deserve.

Think about that today when you consider whether you have the time to vote. If great masses of registered voters decide they're too busy to vote, and if that happens in numerous elections over an extended period of years, we're likely to have a poorly performing government.

If lots of people choose to make the small sacrifice of time to cast a ballot, and if they keep making that choice in successive elections, government is likely to improve. If more people are voting, that means more people are paying attention to politics and government. More people paying attention means fewer chances for politicians to misbehave.

In the 2012 election, South Dakota ranked 28th in voter turnout among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Every election is different. Turnout rises and falls with voter interest. But 28th in the nation is disappointing, no matter the circumstances.

We hope that you'll make the time to vote today, or if you can't, that you've already cast an absentee ballot.

Remember that if you don't vote and are subsequently unhappy with the election results, you'll be getting exactly what you deserve.