The first time I voted in a national election was in 1968 on a helicopter carrier off the coast of Vietnam. I voted absentee. The talk onboard favored Richard Nixon who said he had a plan to end the war. I didn’t believe Nixon and didn’t vote for him. He lied about the plan – and a lot of other things.

At the time, I thought the election was crucial to America’s future. I thought the same thing when opposing George W. Bush, who later started a war under false pretenses and also tanked our economy. And again, when I backed Barack Obama, who righted the economy and whose decency set an example for everyone.

Today, recalling the chaos caused by President Donald Trump over the past two years, I’m convinced the upcoming Nov. 6 midterm election is the most important in my lifetime. As Trump continues to attack the rule of law, minorities, women, the press, the FBI and our allies, I’ve become certain the election is among the most important in our nation’s history.

Trump has proven to be a con man and a serial liar who has degraded the presidency. A recent New York Times investigation found that Trump and family duped the U.S. government out of hundreds of millions of tax dollars in the 1990s. The news should have angered all hard-working taxpayers. But to a citizenry that has become conditioned to Trump scandals, it was just another day at the White House.

I agree with historians, political experts and concerned citizens fearing for our country’s future. But Trump is only part of the problem. His Republican protectors and enablers in Congress have failed miserably to provide the necessary checks and balances. They don’t appear to care that he is corrupt. The New York Times story, for example, should have precipitated investigations and demands for Trump’s tax returns. Instead, Republican lawmakers sat silently until this latest Trumpstorm blew over.

Congressional Republicans have helped put America at risk by voting to explode the budget deficit to give rich people huge tax cuts, by allowing corporate polluters to escape sensible regulations, and by seating a political hack on the Supreme Court. I dread the damage Trump and his supporters will do if Republicans retain control of Congress on Nov. 6. You can bet their targets would include Social Security and Medicare. Expect them to take another run at the Affordable Care Act and its requirement that insurance companies continue health care coverage for pre-existing conditions.

There is recourse. Oust the miscreants at the ballot box. Replace them with people who will hold Trump accountable and will investigate his financial dealings and conflicts of interest.

Recognizing the danger to America by a president who thinks he is above the law, millions of Americans have marched to protest Trump’s policies. Impressive Democratic candidates, especially women, worried about the future of their country and their children, have emerged to challenge Trump’s allies in local, state and national elections.

Activists nationally have been working to get eligible citizens registered to vote. Meanwhile, they are having to overcome onerous voter ID laws enacted by red states, including Texas, to keep citizens, especially minorities, from voting. Now it is crucial that these newly registered folks vote. Early voting is under way through Nov. 2.

To those who think their vote doesn’t count, I remind them of the first verse of an 1845 poem by Julia Carney:

“Little drops of water,

Little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean,

And the pleasant land.”

One vote may only be a drop in the bucket. But enough of them could produce a blue tsunami on Nov. 6.