Tuesday, October 28

"I May Not Agree With What You Say ...

... but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

I grew up thinking that was said by someone like Thomas Paine or Patrick Henry until a few years ago when I learned it was Voltaire. Or maybe Paine or Henry did say it, but not originally. More to the point, though, is that speaking out is not just a right granted us in the U.S. Constitution, it's an obligation. Many years ago someone said to me that we are either part of the solution or we are part of the problem. If you don't speak out when you believe something is wrong, then you are just as guilty as the perpetrators. A hard truth. Someone else put it better when they said that evil conquers when good men do nothing. Why am I going into this? Because next Tuesday is Election Day here in the U.S. of A. But before you read my post, please go on to read what BCB has to say about it here. Most anyone who is reading my blog is probably reading hers, too. If not, you should because she much more articulate than I am. That's because she is a Writer, whereas I am a Reader. I don't have to be articulate, I just have to recognize it when I see it. Like art.

She has pointed out all very good reasons why everyone should vote. It's a right nobody should ever willingly give up. But if her words have not convinced you, I'll give you another damn good reason. We are making history this year, and you should not forsake your chance to be a part of it.

This Presidential Election is already unprecedented. During the primaries, the Democrats gave us a choice of not just one minority candidate, but two. Two! We had, first, a woman running for the Democratic nomination. Then we had a black man running also. So right there, in the primaries alone, we were making history. Amazing stuff. Then, as if that wasn't enough, we saw a true, nail-biting race worthy of the Kentucky Derby. All the big money was on the favorite, the known quantity, a political dynasty in the making. And then what happens? The dark horse (pun not intended), the relative unknown comes up from behind and suddenly anything was possible. From week to week, from one primary to the next, nothing was for sure. If there was a primary like it before this one, it didn't happen in my memory.

Now we have a Democratic candidate, a new face, going up against the old guard GOP. And you would think that the guy with the most history, the most political savvy, would be a shoe in. You would think it would be a no-brainer, that everyone would side with the more comfortable known quantity; but no. Instead it has been another neck-and-neck battle. This election has had so many twists and turns that even now it seems like anything might be possible. Throughout first the primaries and now the Presidential Election, nothing has been certain from one week to the next. It makes it hard to be cynical about the outcome, whichever way it goes. For the first time, the American public has had some real choices and have been out there making their choices known. It's an amazing time, and you should get out there and be a part of it. Regardless of whether your horse wins or loses, you should not sit this one out because you will be passing up the chance to take part in history.

No one candidate is going to have all the right answers, regardless of who wins. And, as I have made it a point to say before, the Presidency is about more than just one issue. It's not just about your stand on abortion, stem cell research, Darwinism, religious freedom, the war in Iraq, or, even, just the economy. No one issue should ever, EVER sway your vote. You are voting for the person who will be recognized as the leader of the United States. It has been said that the Presidency is a figure-head position. Maybe, maybe not. But it is true that this person will be the face of the U.S. to the rest of the world. This is the person who we will hold up as our representative. And there is so much more to being an American than just one issue. We are an amalgam. A mix of not just cultures and religions, but of political beliefs. We are not just conservative in our outlook, we are also liberal. We lean not just to the left, but also to the right and sometimes square in the middle of the road. We are not just rich, we are also poor and middle class. We are not just Anglo, we are also every ethnicity on the face of the earth. We are religious and we are atheist. We are educated and we are blue-collar. We are urban, suburban, small town and country folk. We are farmers and mechanics and doctors and lawyers. We are rebels and we are law-abiding. We are strong and we are compassionate.

So. If you are a U.S. citizen and over the age of 18, you need to vote. Vote because you can. Vote because you should. Vote your conscience and vote your heart. Vote for the person you think will best represent us as a nation. But, mostly, vote.