Voting with Conscience

So, this is the presidential election year in the United States, and the soap opera is in full swing. Normally I try to avoid discussing politics on a blog dedicated to writing (and, occasionally, to music), and there are good reasons why. Most people’s minds are already made up at this point, and the polls definitely make it look as if voting for “the lesser evil” is so ingrained in our mindsets that any other option is dismissed out of hand. That said, I find it hard not to provide some commentary on this election, the state of our nation’s politics, and my own, quite possibly very self-indulgent take on these things. So, without further ado, here is my political rant of the day.

Frankly, I am not crazy about any of the major party candidates, and would not seriously consider voting for either Obama or Romney. Voting is, in my opinion, a civil responsibility, and the only way to fulfill this responsibility is by voting with my conscience, whether or not the latest episode of political drama (or the latest televised plotline with “villain of the week”) tries to play on fear of what would happen if the “other” candidate wins. It is a sad day when the candidate’s main selling point is that his opponent would be such a complete disaster for the nation that the voters cannot afford to let “the other” into the White House. What happened to candidates who were elected on their own merits, not on the lack of merits in their opponents?

And then, there is the matter of us, the voting public. One can proselytize all he wants about the evils of political machinery and the stranglehold of two major parties in the United States, but we are the ones letting it happen. It is people like us that hold their noses and vote for someone with (R) or (D) behind his or her name instead of stopping to think it over. What would happen if the citizens take their responsibility to the nation more seriously, and vote for politicians based on merit, not fear or apathy?

Our news media is full of praise for nations that make changes towards more representative and democratic governments, from Orange Revolution in Ukraine to Tahrir Square. And yet, while we are so vocal in discussing revolutions elsewhere, while we are so convinced that our nation is not on the right path, we refuse to even consider that our own political system may need real change, not the kind that makes for a good campaign slogan.

We don’t need riots or threats of violence; one would hope that we, as a nation and as a culture, are mature enough to enact this change in a responsible manner. One can hope that the base institutions of our government and sociopolitical system are still sufficient to give “we, the People” a real say in who gets to move our nation forward – and who does not. It is clear that both major parties have been part of the problem rather than of the solution – but we cannot just blame the politicians. We, as the voters, are the ones who let it happen, and it is our responsibility to vote with our conscience, to vote for the right thing, and not to let fear-mongering propaganda control us. After all, fear, in the words of Frank Herbert, is the mindkiller, and decisions made out of fear are unlikely to lead to positive results. And we need change, we need an infusion of solutions rather than problems. We need to do the right thing, and to vote for what we truly believe is the best choice to move this nation forward, at every level.

Our revolution needs to happen at the voting booth.

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