The best part of the past 16 years or so of our presidential elections has been the general discourse between people both online and in person.
Because it is gratifying to know that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The arguments we have about politics and politicians will never go away because people are…people.
Sure we can hope that there are more civil exchanges than we see now but I am reticent to say it will happen any time soon.
That is not to say we can’t or won’t just that given the current climate I have my doubts.
What Does My Vote Mean To You?
If I base my answer upon what I read online and hear in person it means that a vote for a Republican candidate means I hate women, minorities and poor people.
But that is ok because a vote for a Democrat means I am stupid, ignorant and prone to living in a fantasy world.
I suppose if we reduce people and our decision making to a zero sum game than it is easy to say you and I are an either/or kind of person.
Those of you who know me best will recognize I don’t care if you agree with my choices and that I am not afraid to share them with you because I don’t need your validation.
That is because I won’t base my choice on knee-jerk responses to external stimuli or slick campaign slogans.
Won’t give it up because I need to vote as my parents, friends or family.
It will be based upon my understanding of the issues and who I think has the best and most practical plan for solving them.
My vote will count because I will leave the booth feeling like I made the best choice with the limited information I could use.
If I act as I hope I will you won’t hear me talking about the other side as being a bunch of ignorant fools because one of my biggest concerns is whether we’ll see people work together to solve problems or point fingers.
If I act as I hope I’ll remember that some of the people who voted for the other side did so with the same foundation as myself.
They’ll have educated themselves on the issues and have selected the candidate they believe is most likely to handle those issues in the best way possible.
It won’t have to mean they hate women, minorities and poor people or that they are ignorant or living in a fantasy world.
You can debate all you want about whether things are better or worse now than they were during Mr. Twain’s lifetime.
As for me, well I’ll say they are better and not just because he lived through the Civil War and all that surrounded and came with it.
But because I see our standard of living as being superior to what they had to deal with then.
Could I provide more reasons and substance to support my position?
Yeah, I could.
I could provide specific details about what I like and or dislike about President Obama and the candidates who might replace him.
But that is not what this post is about.
It is really just me saying I am tired of being told that my vote will fix or wreck the country.
If you really want to know I’ll tell you that this is the fourth straight election where I am not particularly enamored with any candidate.
The fourth one where I look at them all and wonder why I am going into it feeling like I am choosing between the lesser of two evils.
That is not particularly moving or inspiring.
But I go into it hoping whomever is elected will surprise me and that we’ll see less rancor and discord and more working together by our government.
A Father Speaks
You can blame this post in part on my own experiences but in many ways it is because of conversations I have had with my children about this election.
This time around they are in middle and high school and that has impacted their awareness because the political discourse reaches them too in both the classroom and the schoolyard.
I have made a point to share the same thoughts with them as I shared here but I emphasized the importance of their making educated decisions based upon their beliefs.
They aren’t clones of me or their mother.
While I am confident they have been heavily influenced by the values we have tried to raise them with my goal is to raise them to be self sufficient and productive members of society.
So I hope when they are of age they approach voting in the same fashion and that they educate themselves about the issues and candidates and make decisions based upon that.
And finally I’ll leave you with the same quote I left them the other day (“dad, enough with the quotes!”)
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”― Mark Twain