In a tenth grade English class, I wrote a paper about a song on an Up with People album, called Freedom Isn’t Free. The song was fairly pro-war, which now I would repudiate, but the base sentiment– that we have to work to maintain our freedom and that freedom is worth the effort, is as right on the money today as it ever was. I think about that paper, that song, and that English teacher every fourth of July.

My ancestors arrived here in the New World, a few years after the Mayflower, on the ship Anne, and came to escape religious persecution in England and Europe. For me, the basis of being an American is very much about rebellion against religious tyranny, something the Far Right continues to try and exercise against the rest of us every day. In a way, the struggle has never ended. And even those who came here to escape forced doctrine, turned around and inflicted it upon natives as well as on the slaves brought over to the South. Religion has always been to a large degree about control of others.

A CNN poll was released this week that showed a majority of Americans favoring the Affordable Care Act as well as Marriage Equality. 63% of respondents favored ObamaCare, and 59% favor marriage equality: clear majorities.

So, why are we faced with so much conservative and religion-based repressive controls against us? Too many of this majority do not turn out and vote in every election, so that the minority (conservatives) turn out more of their voters, and they end up controlling our government from the local to the federal level. Imagine if that 50% who support health care reform, turned out every election day?

That Up with People song was wrong to imply that the price of Freedom is war. Rather, the real price of freedom is voting. Whenever we stay away from the polls, we lose some freedom. We lose to the far right conservatives who use fear mongering to turn out their voters. We lose to the very rich who see to buy elections and politicians who allow unbridled riches for a very few while hurting the very poor. We lose to those who seek to use religion to control others.

Maybe we should make Election Day, July 4th each year. Maybe then we would connect voting and the price of liberty. But I’m not holding my breath waiting for such a change. I am however, going to become a broken record telling all my readers why it is crucial to turn out and vote in every election. Because Freedom is free, and the cost of freedom is voting.

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