I’ve bitten my tongue around here when it comes to politics. I’ve been slightly more vocal on facebook and twitter, where people can (somewhat) engage in a conversation about the future of our country, because I think a big part of the political process should be the sharing of thoughtful, educated opinions and ideas. Unfortunately, that’s not usually how it goes.
I know it’s a bit late to be saying all of this, but I guess I felt compelled, on this day, to talk about the way we are talking about politics.
Many people tout the party line and hold fast to their ‘beliefs’ because it’s what they’ve been fed – by their parents, spouses, friends, church, or preferred news sources – and forget that politics should be a dialogue. In my opinion it seems that political parties, our country’s issues, and our citizens themselves are constantly evolving (for better or worse), which means our own beliefs and party affiliations should constantly be questioned. And, the only person that’s going to motivate you to know better, to dig deeper, to educate yourself on the issues and to find – the best you can – your own personal truths… is you.
I’ve never been a hugely political person. I think it wasn’t until 9/11 that I really woke up a bit and started paying attention to policies and taking my voting a bit more seriously. It was also about this time in my life (while attending a Catholic university as a liberal) that I had learned the value of shutting up and listening once in a while to others talk about things that made me uncomfortable.
This year – for the first time in probably my entire voting history – I really took the time to shut up and listen. To educate myself on the issues. To attempt to understand what my vote for one candidate or another really meant to the future of this country. And, can I tell you something? Damn, it felt good. To be able to have an educated conversation with others who were voting the exact opposite of me, and to be able to explain my position, listen to theirs and – in some circumstances – have my eyes opened to the possibility of voting across party lines? That’s what politics should be. And, while there are some issues I will never change my mind on, there are way more I still have a lot to learn about, and the dialogue on both is just as important.
And the point of all this, I guess, is that I feel stronger than ever about voting this year. Even more so, about all of us actually educating ourselves in a way that when we walk into the polls we’re not just guessing at choices. Or picking every candidate with a D or a R beside their name just because it’s our party. I know this message is coming a little late, but I certainly didn’t want to wait another four years to say it.
So, I’m asking you… nope, telling you. Whatever your affiliation, go out and VOTE. Make your voice heard – even if it’s in silence, in a voting booth where nobody will ever know what button you pushed. Vote from your heart and your gut and your educated mind. You have been given the right and the responsibility to be a part of this country’s future. Go.