LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
In an election year fraught with tension and political animosity, it’s difficult to “get out the vote.” It’s difficult to muster up the enthusi-asm to turn to your neighbor and give a starry-eyed pitch for your candidate of choice. The fact is, Americans lack choice. We’re barely even a two party system anymore. Our candi-dates have become deceptively similar except on hot button issues that attract a large portion of their voter base no matter how they, themselves, really feel about the issue.
Once in America, there were more than two political parties. Though they have been labeled as such, many of our former great Republican or Democratic presidents were previously members of different parties. The Republican and Democratic parties are simply the ones whose banners they ran under to secure the nomination. To use a well-known president for example, Abraham Lincoln was a member of the Whig party for twenty years before he became the official Republican presi-dential nominee. (Ironically, one of the very first political parties was the Democratic-Republican Party).
We haven’t always been divided straight down the middle, one side here and the other side there. We had choices and once, even, we were together. That time has passed now and it seems our country is more divided than ever over hot button issues that both parties cannot compromise on.
We’ve fallen into an exhausting battle that no one can ever really win. Not in a system like this. When I think about it, sometimes I feel too tired to even stand in line just to cast my vote.
But, the thing that compels me, to trudge out in the heat or the cold and to stand in line
with all the other exhausted people is this:
John F. Kennedy, Jr. told us: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
When people use this quote to denigrate others, to pronounce them ungrateful, I advise them to think about the spirit in which it was made. I ask them to look back and examine what our founding fathers truly intended for us. It was not a country that is beginning to mirror one that they fought so hard to escape. We the people should do for our country, but in that same vein, our country cannot mistreat or misuse us. Patriotism is not the same as jingoism. We should be proud of our country and we should be proud to do what we can for our country, but we cannot turn a blind eye when the status quo needs to be changed. Willingness to acknowledge faults and the desire and ambition to address those faults and make changes is the very height of love and respect for one’s country because they stem from the desire to make it a better place.
So this is what I can do. I can vote. Even when it feels hopeless, even when I feel like I’m screaming at the top of my lungs in a room full of people who refuse to acknowledge that I’m even there, this is how I make my voice heard, small though it may be. Unheard, but if you and I keep our voice in that room, someone is going to hear us.
Voting is how we start to become doers. For some of us, it will be the first step. For others, it may be the only step they can take. Neither of these discounts the other. Each person who votes is one more voice we add to a chorus that sings of a better America. So please remember the only way for your voice to be heard is to cast your ballot for the candi-date that best echos your voice.