Voted earlier this morning. It was horrible. For the first time in my life I stood at the voting machine and honestly didn't know who to vote for. I stood there staring at the screen for awhile -- I must have looked like an idiot! It's not that I don't have strong feelings about this; I do. There just isn't a candidate who stands where I stand and who I feel can represent me in this "representative democracy."
Ultimately, I did make a choice and cast my vote. But it was far from easy. And that's ok; it doesn't have to be easy.
Afterward, I stopped by a local coffee shop and allowed myself to get pulled into a conversation about the election. I'm usually pretty guarded about these discussions because in my experience they are rarely productive and I usually end up frustrated. That's what happened this morning.
To make a long story short, the person I was talking to was on his way to vote. When we started talking he admitted to me that he didn't know where the candidates stood on any of the issues and really didn't care to know. He had watched some TV and seen a few commercials and had decided who to vote for based on "who he liked." Who he liked meaning -- who looks like they would be a good president, who makes me feel better about the country (his words not mine).
I left that conversation and came to this conclusion: there's only one thing worse than not voting - voting when you don't have a clue.
I'm a fanatical supporter of everyone's right to cast a vote, but every right comes with a corresponding responsibility. The right to vote comes with a responsibility to educate yourself about issues, policy, and ideology. To exercise the right to vote without fulfilling that responsibility is like shooting a gun into a crowd without caring who the bullet hits.
The founding fathers made voting open to those who "held land" because they believed you should have a vested interest in the outcome of an election in order to vote. Their idea was dead on, even though their application was off. As citizens and residents in this country we definitely have a vested interest in the outcome of any election and that interest extends far beyond voting day. The evidence of our interest should not be whether we hold property or any other objective measure of that kind. It's not something the government can measure or qualify, but that doesn't make our "vested interest" any less important.
If you don't know the issues, haven't taken the time to think through your vote, haven't looked at the pros and cons of the candidates -- do America a favor. Stay home today.