Thursday, October 30, 2008

pleading for your vote

five days left! if you're like me, you're oh so tired of hearing about the presidential election and candidates. election season in general really wears on me, but this year in particular because it's gone on for so long. i cannot wait for wednesday. do you realize it's been 20 months since barack obama announced his candidacy?

as exhausted of the election as you probably are, i have to beg you one thing: please go vote, if you haven't already. in california, tomorrow is the deadline for mailing in your absentee ballot if you want to be sure it gets to the registrar's office in time to be counted. otherwise you can drop it off at any polling place.

i feel very passionately about voting. i don't care who you vote for as long as you vote. okay, that's not quite true: i do care, especially if you're not voting for my guy or my proposition, but i also feel that political choice is a very personal decision, like religion, and it's not specifically my place to convince you that you're wrong. maybe i'm wrong, who knows. my political beliefs are shaped by my values and my life experiences, which are totally different from your life experiences, because you're not me and i'm not you.

by not voting you forfeit the right to complain or even be the slightest bit aggravated by anything that happens politically. even if you feel your vote doesn't count. someone told me a couple years ago that he didn't vote in the last presidential election as a protest, because he didn't want to vote for george bush and he didn't want to vote for john kerry. (i didn't either, and i don't want to vote for either obama or mccain, but i'm not about to throw my vote - my voice - away.) fine, but then what right do you have to complain about president bush? he said, "well, i didn't vote bush into office so it's not my fault that he screwed up!" technically that's correct, i guess, but he also didn't vote for anyone else against him. by not voting you're removing yourself from the decision-making process and allowing others to make the decision for you. if you consciously allow others to make decisions for you, then you have no right to complain about the decisions they make.

i've heard people say that it doesn't matter if they vote because their one vote doesn't matter. every vote matters! look at the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. regardless of whether or not you think the outcomes of those elections were correct or not, they were both exceedingly close elections. especially in 2000, every single vote mattered in florida. here in california, we're an exceedingly blue state, which is often very frustrating for a conservative like myself (though i tend to be relatively moderate rather than staunchly conservative). republican candidates don't even campaign in california because it's such a given that the democrat will carry the state. so if i vote republican, my vote basically "doesn't count" - it's overruled by all those other democratic votes - but i still vote, because that's my voice and my way of being a part of the political process. and hey, who knows, maybe one day we'll vote red. it happened to reagan in 1984, it could happen again.

so please go vote. because today i am thankful - and you ought to be too:

1. that we live in a country where we have a voice in the political process and can vote our conscience. we have secret ballots and don't have to be afraid of retaliation against ourselves or our loved ones if we vote for an unpopular candidate.

2. that we live in a country that recognizes the rights of the individual. voting is not mandatory. sometimes i think it ought to be, but i think forcing people to be part of the political process is wrong. if you choose not to be, that's your perogative. we don't require you to be any particular religion either. you can be whatever religion you want, or none at all. vote if you want to - if it's important to you - or don't. (but i still think you ought to!)

3. that we live in such an amazing republic that functions so well. (many people think our form of government is a true democracy, but it actually isn't.) lots of people say our government is broken and doesn't function, and that may be true to some extent, but we don't abuse our citizens for speaking out against the government or build palaces of gold while inflation runs rampant and people die of starvation in the streets. yes, i'm sure you could cite many specific examples where i'm wrong, but as a general rule, america is a pretty damn good country. i'm also not trying to start a political debate here, so please don't get all over me for what i just said.

i love that america is the only country in the world founded on an idea - not an ethnicity or a religion or anything else. the idea was freedom and equality, and that idea has succeeded for the past 232 years. even more, if you count back to the original settlement on roanoke in 1607. so please love your country as much as i do and participate on tuesday.

1 comment:

Tabitha (From Single to Married) said...

I hear you - we sometimes take the right to vote for granted so it's important to take advantage of it!