Even those Americans who’ve been living under a rock may yet be aware that we’re in an election year. (Leave it to persistent telephone surveys and piles of flyers to find “Current Resident”, rock abode or no.)
I, personally, am not much interested in politics, and claim minimal knowledge of the mechanics of the election process. Nonetheless, I believe that it’s important “to [formally] express one’s preference for a candidate [for office]” – that, in being given the right to do so, we’ve been given the responsibility to do so (or at least that we’ve lost a good chunk of our right to complain about who ends up in Washington if we refuse to wield what power we’ve been given to affect it).
So, maybe you’ve got primaries coming up (my area’s holding them today), or that part’s already come and gone for you, and you’re just waiting for the big deal in November. Who should you vote for? I’m not going to spend this post arguing for any particular candidate(s) or lecturing on “the issues”. All I’ve got is some general advice applicable to any government election.
Ignore the Hype. “I’m Somebody ‘Something That Sounds Friendlier’ Jones, and I stand for whatever it is you care about!” Yeah, sure you do. Voters, don’t get too excited about TV and radio ads where the most you’re likely to get are a lot of vague declarations, accusations about The Other Guy, and an empty catchphrase that the candidate in question robotically approves. Do not absorb these 30-second commercials and consider yourselves fully informed, ‘cause you’d be wrong.
Have a Clue. It could be that you don’t care much more about keeping abreast of debates and campaign trails than I am. That’s fine, you don’t have to know everything. But before you step up to cast your ballot, wouldn’t you like to know something? Take a gander at a voters guide (a quick search online ought to turn up plenty of options) for checklists of current candidates’ positions on various matters of interest to you. (If spreadsheets give you headaches, you can try something in the vein of votesmart.org’s interactive “VoteEasy™”). Playing “eenie-meenie-miney-moe” is all very well for deciding who gets the last ice cream bar, but is that really any way to pick the leaders of a nation? (Don’t you dare flip a coin to answer that.)
Follow Your Heart. Not to sound like a Disney princess or anything, but seriously. I hear too often of people who vote for someone they don’t really want to win, out of fear that the one they like doesn’t stand a chance against X and they’d be “throwing their vote away”. But I say: The only vote you throw away is the one you don’t cast in the direction you believe is right. Forget the other candidates. Forget the other voters. All you can control is the single vote you’ve been given. Vote your conscience, and hope/wish/pray that everyone else does the same, and you might just be amazed at who comes out on top.
I’ll be doing my civic duty today. When your time comes, I hope all you eligible voters out there will, too. God bless America.