Saturday, October 25, 2008

An American's Duty

As a former political science and political economy major, I've done my best to educate myself while also staying away from the contentious nature of this year's campaign. On both the national and local levels, it is an understatement that it has not been the most harmonious of elections. The campaign ads I've seen for both the Presidential and Senate campaigns here in OR have been... well let's just say they're not representative of the qualifications these people have obtained to run for higher office.

People are, not surprisingly, angry. The stock market is at its lowest point in almost 10 years. People who had overstretched financially to buy a house are now paying a very dear price. Jobs are being lost and those being kept are being done so at a lower wage. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq is in its 6th year. We're at potentially our lowest point on international standing since we elected to tell the Brits to bugger off 232 years ago. Needless to say, the US is feeling blooded and battered; no one can currently say that this country is in a good place. As a result, this election is being pointed to by many, many people as a tipping point for the country.

So the question I keep asking myself is "what should I do about it?" The people I know have committed to various levels of involvement. Some volunteer door to door. Some make phone calls. Some write treatises about why their presidential candidate is the right one. Some read endless articles and analysis to educate themselves in every way possible. Some ignore it all and focus on being a good person, spouse, parent, employee, student, etc. Some even do nothing at all. These people's opinions span the entire spectrum as well; some are voting Obama, some McCain and others are ignoring the person entirely and voting for the party they feel best represents their values.

Do any of these hold a greater value than the other? For this election, many people would say yes. That its the "future of America" at stake, etc. That either this country can't handle four more years of Bushian policies or that Obama is too inexperienced to be President (some of the nicer things being said by both sides). However, I would argue no. This country was built and has continued to succeed based on people "doing their part." That doesn't always mean the same thing for everyone and it changes for people as they go through both good times and bad. However it does at its heart mean a basic level of interaction and involvement with your fellow man and a desire to do well and want more. I believe this is at the core of every person; a desire to want more and do well. And for most of America, people are willing to put in the effort to do just that; it is just that this effort takes different forms.

Friends of ours from Australia recently visited and they discussed that before they left the country that had to vote for the local elections. They HAD to vote; voting is mandatory in Australia. Those who fail to do so risk a fine or in extreme cases jail time. While an argument can be made that required voting in a free election is a bit contradictory, it really struck a cord with with me.

This brought me back to the question I'd asked previously: "what should I do about it?" This country is built on equal representation. While we always have done the best job of fulfilling that promise, it is still one of many bricks the US is built on. One Person, One Vote. Make yourself represented on November 4th no matter what your vote is. No matter what your view on abortion, the economy, social issues, our foreign policy, etc., vote. If the first time you've heard of McCain or Obama is reading this blog entry, vote. I know that wanting people to vote regardless of their educational level on the issues isn't the most popular opinion to take (I've got friends on both sides of the issues making the argument that only those who've taken the time to read up on the issues "deserve" to vote) but this country is all of us. Good or bad. Red or Blue. North or South. McCain or Obama. So on November 4th, have your say in where this country is headed. Be an American and take the time to vote.


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