The right to vote is a privilege that we have long taken for granted. It has become subject to the indifference of our entitlement rather than being subject to the scrutiny of our responsibility. The important work for this election will not be accomplished by the candidates, or at least it shouldn't be. The most important and essential work for this next Presidential election is to be accomplished by the electorate, the American voter...you and me.
Our tendency is to believe that on November 4, 2008, we will go into the voter's booth, push a button or two, and magically, our candidate , whoever they may be, will be elected to office. When, in fact, the real work must be taking place right now, in the privacy of our homes, as we do the research required to make the best possible decision. The alternative is that we continue to spend months on end being dirtied by political mudslinging while we sit on the sidelines and let the candidates "fight it out". Political campaigns have become sport and we have become spectators. And, this is what we call democracy?
Political campaigning has become a sideshow, of sorts, designed to distract us from the real work we need to do to put forth an honest vote. Candidates for public office, Presidential or otherwise, are not to be sold to us like exercise equipment on a late-night infomercial. We must choose who our personal candidate will be, and not told who they will be. Voting is as much an exercise of freewill as anything. Rights come with responsibilities. We, then, need to be responsible in how we make the decision. In order to exercise our right to vote, it is incumbent upon us to turn away from the glitz and glamour of the political "red carpet" back to the organic nature of true democratic process. We are too far afield of the essence of the democracy, and have become far too enamored with the fame and celebrity overshadowing the candidates.
Exercising your right to vote consists of 4 essential steps:
1. Knowledge of the candidates. Who they are. Why they're running. What they stand for.
2. Understanding of your personal values. What you believe and why.
3. Diligence: Which candidate has most closely demonstrated that he or she values what you value. (Tip: This decision should not be party-based, it should be value-based.)
4. Vote using the information you acquired in completing steps 1-3 above.
Voting is a private decision albeit one that has public rewards or consequences, or both. Our individual votes determine who will decide how we will live as a nation and what our role in the world will be. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly or left up to someone else to make for us because ultimately, the choice is ours and we will be held accountable before GOD for it.
We have minds of our own we need to use them to make the right decisions. We have to stop the cycle of being influenced by another person's world view. Each of us has a world view, and therefore, each of us also has the responsibility of doing some heavy lifting, pitting value to value, between now and the next Presidential election. Our votes should not be based on what someone else thinks or believes. We have the inherent capacity of being able to make informed decisions and we need to use it. We don't need celebrity endorsements, multi-million dollar campaign "war chests", special interests, or any such thing.
When you step into the voting booth in November 2008, it should be just you and your candidate. The only voice in your head should be one telling you that you can confidently vote for the candidate that you believe will, based on your own due diligence, best fulfill the spiritual, intellectual, ethical, and physical demands that will be required of our next President. It's your voice and it's your choice. Choose wisely.