The harvest season has taken on a new importance for me since moving to Idaho.

I have never lived so close to agriculture for this long a period in my life. Driving in rural Idaho, I notice new piles of hay, grain, and silage taking shape. I am not putting in any effort toward it, but I feel satisfied by the abundance on display as the fields are ready for harvest. Grain, beet and potato trucks rumble by me even on city streets. Yes. It looks like we will once again survive another winter.

Fall weather has always been my favorite, and this past week has not disappointed. Friends visiting from California commented that they could understand why we are so content to live here, and it is still too early to show them the wonderful alley of golden trees at the north exit to the College of Southern Idaho campus. It’s a season when we can take a deep breath.

Hopefully, that deep breath readies us to face the challenges of our life, our city, our state, our country, and the world. They are still there even in a moment of satisfaction. While Shoshone Falls is almost dry, Hawaii and our east coast are dealing with too much water driven by wind. We have clearer skies now, but the coastal states and much of the west are dealing with lingering fires and the impending hazards of land without vegetation to hold the precipitation of winter storms. The Magic Valley’s residents are fortunate in living in an area of few natural disasters and only occasional man-made inconveniences.

I am concerned that our tranquility may lead us into inertia when it comes to our upcoming elections. I received a picture of the Republican booth at the Eastern Idaho State Fair. There was a plethora of campaign signs but no candidates or spokespeople. The message was, “Here are our candidates. We know you will vote for all of them because, of course, they are Republicans.” Arrogance, or apathy?

I choose apathy from the citizens of Idaho. The Republican leadership may be arrogant in taking favorable votes for granted, but it is you and I who are being counted on to not care much about the November election. In this case, there is every reason to look toward a need for a type of emergency preparedness that is uncommon in Idaho. We are not at risk from disaster, but we are at risk from apathy.

This election is about the state government. This is about more of our everyday lives than most of the decisions that come out of Washington. This election is about our schools, our healthcare, the regulations of our businesses and our property. The Democrats are proposing some practical change and an end to one-party rule. The Republicans are saying they are doing a fine job. If voter turnouts are to be believed, the citizens of Idaho, like bored teenagers, are saying, “whatever.”

Protest marches are energizing. Political advertising is good for some businesses, annoying when it fills your mailbox, just another ad on TV, sometimes misleading. Fill in the blank. The only political actions that count are what you and I do to prepare to vote and then to make sure our ballot is counted. WE. MUST. VOTE.

I am very excited about the qualifications and the positions of the Democratic candidates. I hope that the majority of voters will vote for my favored people. Even more, I want every eligible voter to vote. When I say that we have a kind of emergency, I am not being alarmist. The lack of public involvement in Idaho and the rest of our country is threatening our democracy. Russia and China as well as many smaller countries now have an elected legislature, but they are autocratic in their method of government.

Our politicians do not (yet) interfere with the votes by stuffing the ballot box, but if we do not show enough interest in our various levels of government to vote, politicians and the people who support them will, in effect, dictate to us the laws governing our everyday life. That might not end in blue skies and satisfaction.