Today, like millions of Americans, I exercised my constitutional right to vote. I have to say, although I waited just about an hour, I am proud to exercise my right and privilege as an American. My voice joins the chorus of so many others. I am able to participate in choosing who will represent us in the State Senate, the Federal Congress and, of course, the White House.
I have to admit something however, as I walked around the corner of the voting entrance and saw the line, I almost turned around thinking perhaps I could come back later. Since I brought a few magazines and a cup of coffee, I got in line and waited it out. Before I knew it, I was at the desk giving the registrar my name and district. Because I moved over two years ago, it seemed that the election center did not manage to update my registration – although I did sometime ago – but they did have a paper ballot ready for me to fill out and sigh with my pledge that I was in fact registered to elect.
While waiting in line I heard comments from people and came and left. Most were definitely frustrated with the fact that they had to wait. Others left, lines scaring them away. I couldn’t help thinking they were giving up before even trying things out. I recalled all those Iraqis who waited for hours in the midst of war and I though of all those Afghans who rode donkeys for hours just to cast their ballot. I was saddened by how much we all take our rights for granted.
People who give up so easily on their future just because they have to wait a short while most likely do not appreciate where they are and probably do not take the time to understand what this day represents and why it is so important. I wanted to shout out, “this is your country, your future and if you don’t take responsibility for your part in this process, you should not even think about waging a complaint!”
Personally I am thrilled that no matter who goes home, the United States is seeing a record-voting turnout for this Presidential election. Not that I’m trying to get ahead of myself, but what I’d like to see next is a more engaged American. An America that learns about the issues – global and domestic, reads and becomes informed, does research, engages in discussions and debate, and strives to make this country the best it can be.
The apathy and disengagement in this country is stunning. Too many quote news organizations and pundits as if all they report is true. Propaganda on both sides should be viewed as just that; didn’t we learn anything from watching during the cold war? We were told repeatedly how strong militarily the people were behind the iron curtain. When I got there in 1993, soldiers were hungry and most did not even have boots. Not too scary if you ask me.
What we were told was wrong and if I had not gotten out there to learn and see, I would never have known my very own people – my government – were deceiving me. So I vowed then that I would never just believe, I needed to learn more and make my own decisions based on the facts. This is want I hope more Americans will strive to do as well.
I understand that the US is a wealthy nation and when you are wealthy you often think others should just listen to you. Despite our wealth our knowledge does not seem to be increasing. I was to say the very least shocked that anyone could even think of supporting a Vice Presidential candidate that doesn’t support intellectual prowess. Mediocrity seems to be ok with her. It should not be ok with any of us.
We need to put a higher value on education and knowledge. How did Americans get to the point where they do not want to go to school, do more homework, learn and keep learning more?
Aren’t we concerned when we face a war with a country and do not know where it is located? Most people did not even know where Iraq and Afghanistan were until we invaded them. We sent our children to fight and die without even realizing why.
How are we supposed to understand how to hold our representatives accountable for these invasions or think about a comprehensive policy if we don’t know the issues, the facts, the country, the people and the culture? How can we make any decisions if we are uninformed?
This country is fortunate that it has plentiful resources so we often feel we do not need anyone, but that is not true. In today’s world we need to consider everyone when looking at global climate change, stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, security weapons of mass destruction and, believe it or not, fixing the economic crisis. All countries of the world are connected to these issues and we Americans need to know more so we can work cooperatively, on an international level, to solve them.
So yes, this is an exciting time. People are getting out in droves and voting. Just remember that voting alone does not make a democracy nor does it make any country strong. The people of this country must also commit to engagement with themselves and in their own policies and process. They owe it to themselves and they owe to the future of the entire world.