Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Blog the Vote
The hardest task in living in a democracy is respecting the viewpoints of someone who believes in everything you despise. To stand next to them - or sit across a table from them - and allow them their voice, and consider their point of view, is a challenge to any normal human being. But it is the tenet of our First Amendment, and the foundation of my chosen career. It is something that I believe the next president must be capable of doing before he has any hope of fixing any of our nation's problems. It is something I can not do my job without (though possibly not to those extremes).
For the great majority of my life, I lived in communities where I was among the political minority. That's changed in the last eight months, however it, that underdog mentality, carries over. It is almost surreal to be surrounded by people who, by large, agree with me. It insulates me from the opposing viewpoint, and I feel disconnected from the perspective I've always had - the easy knowledge of the opposition from simply being surrounded by people who espouse that with which I disagree. I believe that being in the political minority for so long made me better understand my own viewpoints - if it was simply knowing where I differ. To better know your rival is to better know yourself, your surroundings, and your community. To understand that, in America, the goal is the same - the methods are merely different. Everyone wants health care. Everyone wants students to succeed, their families to thrive. Everyone wants to live in a clean environment. No one wants to worry about the next paycheck. Everyone wants peace.
So what we are voting for is methodology - the HOW not so much the WHAT. I have been decidedly partisan in most election cycles since before I could vote. But this said, and get ready for it, those of you who know me - I have never in my life voted a straight ticket. And I will not today. I believe that many people feel this way, regardless of the party they may feel kin to. I vote for the candidate I think will go about their job in the method I think appropriate for that position. I vote for the HOW they want to fix things, and the attitude they bring to the problem. You can not discount those who disagree with you simply because they disagree. Right and good knows no party - neither do wrong and bad. If you start off thinking less of an opinion before the opinion is even stated, you won't be truly open to solutions - but in order to get your opinion across you must put forth your vote.
In the millions of votes cast in elections, it is hard to see the significance in one vote. One vote is the one small gesture that everyone can make to demonstrate their investment in their country and community. Four years ago the state I currently live in elected a governor by 129 votes. I can't really get my head around millions of votes, but I personally know more than 129 people. I can get my head around that number. The millions came down to a mere handful, and everyone who didn't vote could see how much each one of their ballots would have mattered. Every vote is one more affirmation toward the methodology you believe in - and one more reason for both politicians to respect your point of view - to recognize that there are passionate opinions on all sides.
One person. One voice. One vote. Your voice is never alone, and your vote will be amplified by the multitude. Millions will agree with you - millions will not, but they are not your enemy. It's your turn to speak and your turn to be listened to with respect and consideration with an absolutely even ratio for every voter.
The things that are hardest are oftentimes the most worthwhile. The things that are hardest are oftentimes the most important. I'm voting because I want you to be able to say things that irritate me, and I want to be able to find information that personally offends me when my patrons ask for it. I'm voting because I want to have my voice heard - even when MY questions irritate and challenge people. I'm voting because I'm invested in the future of my country. I'm voting because if our democracy was easy, we'd be doing it wrong.
Vote. Just vote. Blog the vote.
For more non-partisan Blog the Vote posts, see Colleen Mondor's post.
To hear to why others vote, listen to this 5-minute clip on NPR.