Blow it off? Wait until you’re not so busy? Too confusing? It’s all rigged anyway? Whoa, kiddo. No! You need to vote!
Incredibly lucky to be a citizen of a democratic republic, you cannot take time off from being an American. Popular claims that the ‘American Dream’ is about owning a home or rising in your job is rubbish. The American Dream is, at its core, having personal freedom and a stake in your nation’s conduct and character. You must vote. It’s your greatest responsibility.
Inexcusably, it is true that our primary election system has been totally screwed up, manipulations that must be exorcised. We’ll deal with that February 2, 2017. Vote anyway!
Despite these and other efforts by oligarchs and anarchists, “we, the people” still own this country. We are responsible for and to our democracy, for and to each other. The pay-off? As U.S. citizens, we are guaranteed, under law, more personal liberty and public authority than anyone on this earth.
Exercising your right to vote gives you power to protect and strengthen your ideals through law. Each one of us has a solemn duty to vote. Think of it this way: Not voting is like leaving a loaded gun on a busy street. And it’s your gun.
How do you cast an informed and considered vote, one that matters?
Make time to educate yourself. Consult numerous sources for your information. Don’t just read the first two Google search results, the most popular, not necessarily accurate. And remember, advertisements may flat out lie. Always consider the source!
PBS Newshour is one reliable, centered source of news and information. Fox, is to the right of center, a “conservative” take on events, ideals and candidates. MSNBC is to the left, focusing on “liberal” concerns per the same. All make an effort to, at least, appear fair and balanced, but everything most networks choose to report on and how ‘leans’ per their orientation.
BuzzFeed, Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, U.S. News and World Report, New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, all have their own ‘bents’. Trying to get past editorial adjectives and opinions to glean actual factual information is tougher than ever in our very opinionated and gossipy culture. But you’ll figure it out.
Challenge your own bias. Watch and read the ‘other’ side. Consider what ‘rings true’ per your experiences and what appeals to your deepest values. It’s not only okay to be conflicted, it’s important to be. Wrestle with the conflicts, pick them apart, assess what and who truly supports your highest ideals. Forget what politicians say; what do they do? Issues, conduct and character matter in your life and in your government.
Direct your elected representatives. If Bills (proposals) ‘before Congress’ (in deliberation) don’t address your biggest concerns, tell them! Tell them what you want for yourself and others. Email – 2 minutes! They study what you tell them; they pay attention to citizen ‘outreach’.
It’s never been easier or faster to get the scoop on what’s really going on. It takes relatively little of your time and energy to protect your rights and contribute your voice to developing, halting or repealing laws that affect you and your fellow citizens; there is simply no legitimate excuse for failing to meet your duty.
So yes, you do have to vote. Cast your vote using your best judgement, sense of fairness and highest hopes for humanity. Vote with gratitude, pride and zeal. And, no matter what, never stop.