23 Oct 2016, 13:22 CDT, Ferndale, Arkansas
Tomorrow starts early voting here in my home state. Our choices will be, for me and many of my fellow Americans, a tough decision to make. Do we vote for one of the two leading candidates and make our votes “actually count”, or do we vote for one of the others running, or perhaps write in ourselves in this crazy election? The former sounds like the right thing to do, even if it makes me queasy one way or the other. The middle is the more sane choice, perhaps. The latter is just silly but totally considerable given options 1 and 2. But, voting is a privilege that many do not get to do, so I must vote this year for the voiceless in our society.
The voiceless – who are they? Maybe you’ll disagree with some of my list, but the voiceless to me are the people who are too infirmed or mentally deficient, due to age or general insanity, to actually be able to vote. Those in the nursing home who will be affected by the choices we make, but who can no longer eat or drink on their own, much less exercise the right to vote. Those felons among us who made a bad decision somewhere in the past, a goofy stupid choice like a hot check or drugs when they were 19, but for whatever reason still have no voting rights. Those who are too young to vote but who will be greatly impacted over the next four years by what we older people choose in the coming weeks. All of those people,around the world who have no say at all in our election, but for whom humanitarian aid means the difference between life and death, for whom a decision we make prevents the military coup that causes their whole family to disappear, for whom rescue from a dictator-led nation is the only ticket to a life well lived. All of those people are depending on you and me. All of those people need us to make a good decision. When you think about it, it’s a heck of a responsibility.
I once had a relative who didn’t vote. The person just didn’t believe it was important enough. “My vote doesn’t count,” was a mantra repeated every two or four years, just because of the electoral college and the way the system works. Never mind the local races and other constitutional amendments and other issues on the ballot, all of which definitely have an impact on one’s life. This person just didn’t take the time. Unfortunately, when you have the opportunity to do so and choose not to vote, as the saying goes, you also give up your right to complain about who got elected, what amendments and propositions were passed, and how those things impact you. That saying is never truer every four years when we have a presidential election.
I’m not here to tell you for whom to vote. Like religion and some other touchy subjects, it’s up to you to decide for whom your vote will be cast. It’s up to you to get in your car, ride the bus or the train, or walk, to your nearest polling location and cast your vote. If not for you, cast it for your elderly relatives, for your children, for your brother in prison for drugs, for the friend from childhood who is now in a mental institution. Do it not just for yourself, it do it for the country – to paraphrase Kennedy.
Regardless of which way you vote, change will occur. Just as when a new leader takes over at your job, changing policies and bringing in new staff members to replace you or those you have worked with for many years, change will happen based on the results of this election. Someone may be able to get a prescription for medical marijuana and get off the hydros they have been taking for years. Someone may be able to get funding for a project to better her state, there may be a new sheriff or judge elected who will go all Tommy Robinson on crime, or after many months a new SCOTUS judge will be able to take the bench so that every case isn’t 4-4.
You know who makes that change? You do. It doesn’t happen without you. Don’t give up the right to help elect, pass, or fail something that is important to you and important to the voiceless in our society and around the world. Go. Vote.