Watching the sad but uplifting memorial service for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg this morning, my weary mind kept drifting back to the 2000 presidential election. 

An old friend and colleague of mine cast a ballot for Ralph Nader, but essentially voted for George W. Bush. Nader had no chance to win, and votes like my friend’s pulled Dubya just close enough to be appointed president by the Supreme Court.  

The disastrous consequences of Bush’s eight-year reign of error are too numerous to cover here, so I’ll stick to the basics — ignoring early warnings about the 9/11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq, Katrina and the 2008 financial collapse that nearly sank the country. 

When my friend voted for Nader — a perpetual also-ran with zero chance of winning — he voted for all of the above. SIDE NOTE: I know Michele Obama just loves Dubya now and Trump makes him look like Abraham Lincoln by comparison, but let’s recall that before the current occupant won the White House, Dubya was the top contender for Worst President Ever. 

Back to my misguided friend, who learned a hard lesson in unintended consequences. Like most third-party voters who feel like noble rebels when casting a “protest vote” for a candidate with no chance, it took him years to admit his error and regret it.

Meanwhile, the world burned. 

However futile the exercise, protest voters at least show up. Those who blow off a citizen’s most basic, sacred duty happily enjoy the benefits of democracy but accept no responsibility for its maintenance. They are parasites who don’t seem to understand that when their host dies, they will too.  

If you didn’t vote in 2016, or cast a ballot for third-party also-rans like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, you voted for Donald Trump and the “American carnage” he has wrought since his poorly attended inauguration. You voted for children in cages, an endless torrent of lies, vulgarity and bullying, the end of the rule of law, tear-gassing peaceful protesters, the deaths of 200,000-plus Americans (many of them preventable) and the ruination of the Main Street economy while Wall Street soars above the rubble. 

You voted for a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, the end of Obamacare and its protections for preexisting conditions and the reversal of Roe V. Wade.

You voted for Trump to stay in power even if he loses the election. Before RBG’s body was cold, Trump was lining up a ringer for a 6-3 majority that could come in handy if the election is ultimately decided by the court. 

Feeling guilty? A little green party in the gills? Libertarian and friendless? I have the cure:  

VOTE. LIKE YOU MEAN IT. LIKE IT MATTERS. BECAUSE IT DOES. 

There are two candidates in this race with a chance of winning. Pick one and vote. Do it by mail, at a drop-off box or at the polls on Nov. 3. Just do it. 

And if you do it in person, tell the poll workers RGB sent you.