Monday, October 22, 2007


Unless you live the Amish lifestyle, then you are well aware that the Presidential election is only a short time from now. Sadly, voter turnout is habitually low for elections. It is unfortunate and disturbing how so many Americans can take this right for granted after so many others fought and died throughout our nation’s history to provide us with this gift. People of new republics, most recently Iraq, who know first hand what it feels like to be forbidden from having a voice and a vote, revel in their newfound freedoms and privileges. Yet, look at us. It seems many of us have forgotten.

Sure, there are some valid arguments against participating in free elections: a single vote is unsubstantial, the candidates are practically indistinguishable, neither nominee is worthy of the Presidency, etc. Each of these can be countered and ultimately defeated, but this tends to be a futile endeavor. Some listeners may be affected and will possibly change their mind, but most will stubbornly cling to their beliefs at all costs because they have built an emotional attachment to them that no degree of reason can penetrate.

The aforementioned reasons for neglecting one’s responsibility as a citizen can all be categorized under one heading- laziness. Voting usually occurs at convenient locations, tends to be fairly quick, and is relatively easy (unless you live in Palm Beach). These sorry excuses pale in comparison to the obligation that an American ought to feel in fulfilling his or her duties as a citizen of this great republic. Uninspiring candidates are no reason to neglect this privilege.

No one will see eye to eye with any particular candidate on every issue. This may be a rather cynical way of looking at it, but voting is basically the choosing of the lesser of two evils. Also, it is fool-hearty to vote for someone on a single issue. Suppose your nominee stands with you on abortion, but has a far too lenient stance on crime, has a weak position on the war on terror, is apathetic about our failing public school system, unequivocally supports socialized medicine, turns a blind eye to illegal immigration…you get the point. It is also absurd to vote for a candidate based on how he or she looks, or how you feel about him or her. It is better to use your brain, not your gut.

There are some hard truths that we all must face about voting, in general. First, we must become interested and involved. Politics is generally perceived as “boring”, but it is something that affects us all. It is irresponsible not to educate ourselves about politicians, and various political issues. This involves hard work, and perceptibility. The work involves studying the issues. The perception means that we must face and accept the reality of media bias so that we can better discern between the truth and the bull-plop. Secondly, we must be more willing to engage one another in civil discourse. Far too many citizens today positively refuse to even acknowledge anyone who does not see the world in precisely the same way that they do. They speak only to those who will reinforce their skewed beliefs. If we are sincere in our convictions and confident in their verity, then we ought to be willing to indulge in the luxury of skepticism every so often. This is a great remedy for self-delusion. Lastly, listen to all sides. Read books written by liberals as well as conservatives, and vice versa. Beware of self-proclaimed independents; however, because every one of them leans closer to one side or the other. Whether or not a true independent exists is debatable. That is it. Good luck, and hope to see you at the polls!

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