Vote!

Between the 20 emails a day the Obama team sends me and the 200 political ads and arguments I see every day on Facebook, not to mention the onslaught of television ads, I think it's safe to say everyone will be glad when this election is over. (And yes, I am crossing my fingers and toes and imploring the baby Jesus to make sure Obama wins because I suspect Romney is a robot and the root of all evil. That's not what this is about though.)

The one thing about any election that drives me crazy is those who say, "I don't vote. That's my political statement. I hate both candidates so I'm exercising my right NOT to vote."

I know this is going to rub people the wrong way but...that's a cop out. It makes you sound like a little kid who's been told to pick between broccoli and peas. You don't like either choice so you plant your feet in the mud and refuse to budge. But mom says you can't get up from the table until you eat one.
Well...shit. That sucks. You vow to sit there all night.

Then you look over and see everybody else relaxing after dinner. They're enjoying some TV and maybe even some ice cream. But there you sit. Resolute.

Eventually, you will make a choice. And that choice may come from logic or it may come from emotion. Either way, you're getting the hell outta the kitchen. You're going to eat those peas or choke down that broccoli. Maybe if you put a little thought into it, you'd find out you don't actually hate peas. When forced to choose between the two, peas are apparently your best option. Peas it is then. Dinner (and voting) over. Time for Sponge Bob.

Only...in that situation...the only person you're impacting is yourself. That's why we don't let little kids vote. As an adult, however, what you do - or don't do - impacts everyone around you. That is the single-most important thing you can teach your children.

People have fought - and died - for your right to vote. If voting wasn't such a big deal, why would there be so many people fighting to stop you from doing it right now? Why would there have been a Constitutional Amendment granting women and people of color the right to vote? Why were there riots and imprisonments and laws passed to stop anyone voting in the first place?
Why do I see photos of giant lines for early voting? Why the fuss about the Republicans trying to pass voter identification laws that directly impact our most vulnerable members of society - the elderly, the poor, the any other color but snowy white?

Seriously folks, get out there and do your civic duty. Take an interest even if it's only for one day, in who is representing you - not just in the White House, but locally. If you don't vote, you don't get to complain. Don't like the results? Too bad. You have disempowered yourself. You're free to do that because of the thousands upon thousands who fought for your freedom to be apathetic.

If nothing else, voting allows you to participate in something bigger than yourself. It reminds you that you are not alone. You are not the only one thinking what you're thinking and feeling what you're feeling. You have brothers and sisters in the same, exact boat looking for the same, exact thing. You just so happened to be born in a country the rest of the world wants to be a part of.

You're an American and you should be grateful for the opportunity to participate. Maybe it's because of my exposure to the war in Iraq. Being a real military spouse with a loved one in a war zone is something you can only understand when you've lived it.  Maybe it's having a veteran of the Korean War for a father.  I know I look at things differently because of those truths. But I wouldn't change that for the world. Being an American has actual meaning for me and if you're thinking that voting doesn't matter, maybe you should ask yourself what it means to you.

Fancy speak for putting one's feet in the mud.

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