Your vote matters…but make it count.
I have tried to vote in every election since my 18th birthday – it’s an obligation more than a right. The rest of the world wants to either be here or be us, and a big part of calling ourselves American revolves around our rights and liberties. Both require constant maintenance. Maintenance involves voting for what we believe in, for the change we want, and for those who best represent us and what we want. More importantly, the right to vote ensures that we protect those who either can’t protect themselves, or those who are not necessarily within the mainstream.
I am constantly disappointed by the RepubliCrats glee at getting a majority vote, as if that somehow signifies some sort of unity. I know that we can’t make everyone happy all the time, but 51% does not make a “majority” in my mind. Part of the majority’s responsibility is to represent, as well as protect the minority. And I am not only talking about racial minority, but also those who might not always fall in line with the RepubliCrat’s views.
For years I would vote on absolutely every ballot initiative, representative, sheriff and judge printed on the card issued to me. I felt it was better to cast my vote, even for someone I didn’t know, or vaguely knew of, than to leave that chad un-punched. In recent years, I have rethought this logic. I realized that voting for someone just because I saw their name staked on lawns around town was not a good reason to cast that ballot. Most of the candidates are quite amiable in person, so finding them to be charismatic isn’t a good enough reason to cast my vote in their direction. Likewise, voting for an initiative because it mentions something about “money for schools” or “harsher sentences for criminals,” or “better protection for our children,” could actually cause more harm than help.
We shouldn’t glaze over the fact that hindsight is 20/20. We can learn from our past mistakes, and try to use that knowledge to make more informed decisions in the future. Past laws and lawmakers might not give me specific insight into the current candidates and initiatives, but coupled with years of intuition, they can certainly help raise some red flags. As long as I am willing to vote according to my conscience and not just along the lines of which ever political party I may have registered with, I feel confident in my ballot choices.
I have decided to no longer cast a vote for the unknown. Unless I have taken the time to educate myself on a ballot measure or candidate, I will refrain from punching that chad. A vote for something unknown could end up weighing heavily against who and what I believe in rather than if I had refrained from voting on that unknown issue or candidate at all. I know that there is an overwhelming amount of information out there and that voters often feel paralyzed by such a momentous decision, but persevere. Read, research, attend candidate forums, ask questions. It is a small price to pay for the freedoms that our forefathers and mothers have afforded us.
I believe there is a difference between being a citizen and merely being a civilian. A citizen has the courage to take on the safety and well being of their community, as their personal responsibility; a civilian does not. Citizens vote; civilians do not. So, don’t merely vote for your party, your friend, or a combination of words that seems attractive. Vote your conscience and your vote will never be wasted.