Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Get out the Vote!
It's Election Day!!! I love Election Day. Really, I love things that seem like big events, where everybody is doing something neat at the same time, like New Years Eve or Gameday. But Election Day is even better than all of those days because unlike most holidays, the actual partaking in the election isn't anti-climactic. The denouement doesn't happen until night-time (or a month later, as the case may be. please Florida, try to get it together this time.)
People often say that they don't feel like voting because, after all, "what's one vote?" And while I think P. Diddy might have taken it a little to the extreme by saying "VOTE OR DIE," I believe that thinking of an individual vote as worthless isn't right. Simplistically speaking, if every person was like "oh what does it matter, it's just one vote" and never stopped by the polling place on Election Day, there wouldn't be any votes.
It's true, America is not a direct democracy (which would mean that all the people of voting age in the whole country are required to vote on every single piece of legislation or appointment that occurs.) Instead, we are a republic (although a lot of Americans would probably answer incorrectly if you asked them this on the street.) For many reasons, we should be really, really glad about that. For one thing, if we were a direct democracy, no one would ever get any work done at work because we'd be voting or studying policy all the time. For another thing, there are an awful lot of ridiculous and uninformed voters out there who pick candidates based on how handsome they are, or how many movie stars are voting for them, or how funny they were on Saturday Night Live. Votes like that have to be tempered by the system (ours is called the Electoral College) and by the fact that most of the actual legislating that goes on is done by elected officials who voters have selected and trust to do the leg-work on figuring out the details. These people spend all their time working in Washington or various state capitols educating themselves (hopefully...) on policy, and legislation, and repercussions - and then they vote on it.
It is true, again, that many of our politicians seem sketch, and aren't exactly scholars. (Sigh. More people should be like Ron Paul. Whatever else you may say about him, that is a man of principle.) That is where it becomes up to us, as voters, to do our homework and pick the candidate we feel is most qualified, and best represents the ideals and tenets this country was founded on.
All too many times, unfortunately, it feels like we are forced to chose between the lesser of two evils as far as candidates go. I don't want to advocate a particular candidate here. My hope would be that you would take a look at the constitution of our country, and take a look at the federalist papers composed by our founding fathers as they were literally in the process of establishing this nation. Too often people scramble around in deep seas of policy and agendas, forgetting that there are guidebooks to navigating through all the mess. In voting, we need to go back to the roots of this country, the principles it was founded on, the freedoms our forefathers sought, and the rights each citizen is endowed with to shape and guide our decisions.
So, don't disregard your right to vote. No matter how small you feel like your voice is, you have a say in what goes on. Do your part, it's the only way you can earn the right to complain later. Go stand in line, cast your ballot, enjoy being a part of something bigger than yourself. Then put on your sticker and go to Starbucks for a free coffee.