Hey, America…. GO VOTE!

So it’s Election Day here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  I’m sure many of you, like me, are sick and tired of all the political ads on TV and the radio, the inundation of political posts from our friends on Facebook, and all the “Vote for Me!” signs that have been waving in people’s yards for the past three to six months.

In general, I don’t discuss politics – in person, online, anywhere.  I’ve had friends try to draw me into political debate on Facebook, and I just don’t play along.  I seem to manage to steer the comment-conversation toward, oh, I don’t know, cupcakes or something.

Politics is susceptible to cupcakes, did you know that?

I had this big long-winded message I thought about writing this morning to kind of clarify my position on the issues, but you all don’t need my input.  It’s not my job to tell you who to vote for.  It’s a personal decision, it should be based on your beliefs and values.  And regardless of party lines, you should vote for the person you think will do the best job.  Read up on the issues and look into where the candidates really stand.  Think about what they’ve said (and what’s been quoted in or out of context).  Look at the track record. And really, sometimes you have to take your gut instinct into account too.

Up until this morning, I honestly had no idea who to vote for.  To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure.  I have all day to think about it, since I won’t be able to go vote until after work.  I’m neither a Republican or a Democrat.  I’m an independent (with a lowercase I) voter.  If I have to define myself, I’d say I’m a liberal conservative.  Which basically means I’m on the fence, right in the middle, with an ever-so-slight lean toward the liberal side of things.

Who am I voting for?  Really, it’s not your business.  I just read a book to my second graders yesterday about elections, and it said right there, in that children’s book, that voting is “private” and “secret” in the United States.  Could I tell you?  Sure.  But I don’t want to.  But you can be certain it’ll be the person I think will do the best job.

But here’s what I feel very adamant about:  Voting is a precious right in our country.  Not a privilege, not something to earn. Every citizen of this country has the right to vote – and let’s face it, it’s taken literally centuries and loads of hardship to make it so EVERY CITIZEN of the United States can vote.  And while you certainly have the right to choose abstention from voting, I really think that if you don’t cast a ballot, you shouldn’t complain about the outcome of the election.

Let me clarify quickly.  I know that we’re all taxpayers, so everyone certainly has the right to complain about how our tax money gets spent.  But all our elected officials, from the President to Congress to our local and state governments, are just people.  And they have agendas and ideals and they often cling to party politics even if it isn’t in the best interests of the country.  So yeah, you can certainly complain about how those officials choose to spend America’s money, the policies put in place.  The funny thing is, people often say we live in a democracy, but that’s not entirely accurate.  We live in a democratic republic.  A true democracy would have all of us voting all the time on every bill and law and referendum.  We vote for our representatives, who in turn vote on those issues in our stead.  Because we won’t all fit in the Capitol Building at the same time.

But if you don’t cast a vote, don’t complain about the person in office.

And for God’s sake, show a little respect, regardless.  Whether you voted for him or not, the President is the President.  Whoever is elected today, whoever takes office in January, will be the person who wins the election.  And it’s really no use complaining about that in the end, because it means the democratic process works.

So my final piece of advice this morning?

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