On November 6, 2012, U.S. citizens will vote for the next president, as well as some state and local offices. Joining them, will be my father who will cast his first vote for a United States president. Talk about a big day in a 74 year old, Cuban-born, person’s life! (It isn’t his first time voting, as he has enthusiastically voted in every local election since becoming a citizen in March of 2009.)
It’s exciting to think that someone would care enough to participate in the electoral process after a lifetime of not doing so. It is a great lesson for those who are too_ whatever_ not to vote, to know of someone who is inspired and concerned enough to want to actively participate in a process that often is viewed cynically and without any fanfare. If your RIGHT TO VOTE seems mundane or pointless, you may need to live in a country where people lack that ability and absorb the preciousness of that right.
It is hard to believe that some people will not exercise their right to participate in this important process. The reasons go from unacceptably lame to understandably unacceptable. And yes, I realize that two, or even three, candidates can’t possibly appeal to every person in the country; and as with marriage or most relationships, there is always SOMETHING about the person you just don’t like. But, that isn’t the point. The point is - VOTING is a civic duty and a responsibility that too many people take for granted.
Here’s a little explanation of voting in more academic terms:In a democracy, a government is chosen by voting in an election: a way for an electorate to elect, i.e. choose, among several candidates for rule. In a representative democracy voting is the method by which the electorate appoints its representatives in its government.
A vote is a formal expression of an individual's choice in voting, for or against some motion (for example, a proposed resolution), for a certain candidate, a selection of candidates, or a political party. A secret ballot has come to be the practice to prevent voters from being intimidated and to protect their political privacy. Voting usually takes place at a polling station; it is voluntary in some countries, compulsory in others, such as Argentina, Australia, Belgium and Brazil. – Wikipedia
WOW! That last line! In some countries, voting is compulsory? Imagine that! In my humble, or not so humble opinion, those countries have the right idea. In our great nation, we have SO MUCH FREEDOM; we even have the freedom to NOT exercise one of the most important rights we possess. Now that’s something.
I don’t presume to tell anyone how they should vote. That is just as bad as telling someone “who or what” they should pray to, or who they should marry, or how they should live their lives. It defeats the purpose of, wait for it…FREEDOM. You see where I am going with this. It isn’t that I want to tell anyone how they should vote, because that isn’t for me to say. I respect, even if I disagree with, another person’s choices. I may not understand it, like it, or even think it is a good idea, but it isn’t my job, my place, or my decision to decide for them.
To be 100% honest, I don’t like politics or most politicians. I have my own personal reasons and frankly, it isn’t party-based or even about many of the individuals. I find the whole business very divisive and polarizing. Politics has become MEAN-SPIRITED, cruel, dehumanizing, and theatrical. It makes my head hurt. And in a 24/7 news world, the spin and hype can become overwhelmingly depressing. Most of the coverage isn’t about real issues, it is aboutpersonalities and an endless stream of pundits and talking heads and controversial “radio personalities” who just want higher ratings. It is exhausting. It makes many people really crazy. Seriously, crazy.
I realize politics is big business. I understand the whole campaign industry and view much of it with cynicism and loathing, BUT I take democracy very seriously, and since the political process, as flawed as it may be, it the vehicle that produces our democracy and precious freedoms (hopefully), I accept and embrace it. Our process isn’t perfect, but it certainly beats many of the alternatives.
This coming Tuesday, my family will be celebrating OUR RIGHT to vote, even more than who wins the election. My father’s exercise of his civic duty, and his belief in the democratic process under the Constitution, is far more important to me than which candidate is chosen by the majority of the American people. I know that may seem hard to believe, but it is true. Presidents come and presidents go. There are always going to be disappointed people after Election Day. That’s how it goes. But the day after the election, we are all still Americans, and democracy will still be alive and well.
So get out there and exercise your right to vote. Many people around the world have, or would have, died to have it.