Nothing’s perfect. Nothing meets every expectation or fulfills every wish or desire. We engage in jobs, marriages, college careers, sporting competitions, cultural challenges, parenting, etc., with a presumption of one set of results and often, very often, a different set emerges. It’s part of life; we’re taught to adjust and we do. But does that mean we don’t, then, engage in those activities once they’ve failed to meet our expectations? We eschew marriage because too many end in divorce? We don’t go to college because too many expensive educations don’t result in high paying jobs? We don’t bother with jobs at all because too many disappoint with sustainability or advancement issues? We give up on sports because our team lost or a coach failed to pull out the season? We don’t engage in activities, causes, creative endeavors, and the like because we experienced disappointments, failed candidacies, unmet financial goals, poor ticket sales? We don’t have children because… well, children…. God knows what they’ll do?!
Fact is, most of don’t give up on all those many elements of human life just because they disappointed us. We may rage, write blogs, post comments or sign petitions, but once we shake off whatever frustrations, heartaches, disappointments, and tragedies life has to offer, we climb up from the depths and jump back in. We reinvent. We try again. We give it another shot.
So why do we stop voting because we’re disappointed in politics and politicians?
All week I’ve been reading articles about voter apathy, weak turnout, low approval ratings, election shenanigans (that again!), and so on. I’ve seen posts on Facebook bemoaning the futility of voting, cries of “what’s the point?”; lots of wordy treatises (some by celebrities) on the pointlessness of choosing “one devil over the other,” and the cynicism and negativity is just breathtaking. Honestly, I want to shout “FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, PEOPLE!” as loudly as I can and, in fact, it really is only in the First World that we so take for granted our right to vote and the ease with which we can do it.
When you see lines of Muslim women in India eager to make their voices known, Iraqi voters with purple fingers, Sudanese in line for hours, and others in beleaguered countries actually putting themselves at risk to get to the ballot box, the bizarrely enervated, whiney responses of far too many American voters is gut punching.
Seriously… vote. Spend today and tomorrow boning up on the many propositions, compare who’s for and against, get an idea of what they’re about; look at endorsements, see if they align with your thinking, then CHOOSE. DECIDE. VOTE.
Don’t know who all those judges are? Who does? Again, check endorsements, do a little research. Some big newspapers made it easy and have done the research for you; all you have to do is decide, again, if that newspaper is generally aligned with your political sway, read a few biographies and voting records, then DECIDE.
Might you get it wrong if you make a choice and later discover the proposition was weak because it wasn’t written well or it didn’t pan out as expected by its authors? Yes. You might. So what? Right now, in this election, take the time to make the best possible choice you can based on your research and your gut… just DECIDE. If it turns out to be a failure, so what? You tried. They tried. We’ll all try again.
There’s lots to say (and, oh, so many people saying it!) about Republicans and Democrats and this guy and that gal and all the usual partisan politics about who cares about women and minorities, who doesn’t, who might win the Senate, who might not, and that’s a BIG conversation filled with lots of noise and a modicum of sense… mostly not. I don’t need to add to it. My party affiliation is clear to me, I know who I believe is more concerned about my rights as a woman, a parent, an American, and a member of this human race. I will vote accordingly. But I’m not here right now to try to sway anyone to one side or the other, browbeat any particular candidate or applaud another. That’s all being done by countless others and the noise is deafening.
All I’m here to say is: VOTE. Period.
It may be a cliche, but if you don’t vote you have no voice in the government of the country in which you live. You have no position from which to complain, to argue, to raise a ruckus. You’ve offered no energy toward being part of and, hopefully, improving a — yes — corrupt, flawed, manipulated, and seriously pot-holed system. But it’s our current system and we ARE the government. It often doesn’t feel that way for a whole host of valid reasons, but it is our vote, each and every vote, each and every election, that shifts and changes — albeit ever so slowly — the government, the laws, the leaders, the country. Don’t abdicate the power you have to protest the power you don’t have.
Ben Sargent Voting Cartoon: Reboot Illinois
Muslim women voting: Jezebel
Iraqi voters with their purple fingers: Wikipedia
Voting in Sudan: Wikimedia Commons; Jenn Warren, USAID Africa Bureau
College kids voting for the first time: College of New Rochelle
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