If you have not yet done so please, and it pains me to say this, turn off your computer and go vote right now.
Apart from my personal belief that voting is a civic duty akin to paying taxes, keeping your lawn neat and helping old ladies across the street, this year our country is facing a collection of important and dynamic issues that will shape our nation and our world for years to come.
The votes cast or not cast today will reverberate in countries around the world. Every election is important, but this year provides citizens with the ability to make a fresh start here in Washington. It is also historic because of the candidates themselves. Either way barriers will be broken; be it Barack Obama as our first black president or Sarah Palin as our first female vice president.
Though it’s easy to say that all politicians are the same, it’s just not true. The candidates for president are different men, with different views about our role the world, economics, geopolitical conflicts, taxes and social issues. So please take a few moments and learn about each candidate’s views and plans. If neither Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain work for you, there is a Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, the Constitution Party’s Chuck Baldwin, and perennial independent, Ralph Nader.
As I stood on line this morning and waited for more than an hour to vote, two thoughts ran through my mind. The first was that I’ve never seen a crowd quite this big before. The second was that in many countries throughout the world voting can be a perilous and even fatal endeavor.
The simple yet profound act of choosing our leaders by secret ballot is most certainly taken for granted here. That’s not a condemnation, but rather a fact: those of us born in the U.S. have never experienced anything else. We cannot imagine not being able to vote or to not vote; it is the benefit of a comfortable democracy. Yet in recent years we have seen the lengths to which people in other countries will go to secure this right and the price that many have paid to do so, too often the ultimate price.
And don’t forget that you are not only voting for a president. On my ballot alone where choices for judges, members of the school board, and members of Congress; ballot questions; and potential changes to the state constitution. So, all I ask is that you take the time to go vote; it is a wonderful privilege granted to us through the efforts and pain of others.
Of course, you should also make a point to dress well when you head out to the polls. When doing your civic duty, look like it matters. Because it does.