The Constitution of the United States bestows a great deal of power upon the people of this country. Chief among them is the right to cast a vote for the person or ideals with which you are most in concert with. I believe, however, that the right to vote should be viewed more as a duty, a responsibility of each and every free American.
Before you go out and “do your duty,” however, you need to properly educate yourself about who and what you are voting for or against. Voting for candidates solely based on superficial reasons, media pressure, or because of some celeb’s latest “tweet” is highly irresponsible. Media outlets will, no doubt, all have an agenda that will serve only to feed you the information with which [they] want you to be armed. Your co-workers or gal pals may be great sources for what entrée to order at Pascal’s Manale or whether Prytania Theater is a good date night. But, let’s face it, the consequences of taking poor advice for either will not likely land the country in it’s worst depression since, well, “the Great Depression” or lend to the worst unemployment rate in your lifetime.
I hear people say all the time “my vote is just one vote; it won’t make a difference.” I say, “that’s a bunch of bull!” The days of landslide victories like Reagan’s in 1980 are a thing of the past. Your attitude about your Constitutional right to vote is – like a smile – contagious. And, just like your passion for anything else in life, people take notice when you’re in to something. They want to know what they’re missing. So tell them!!! Tell them they are missing the chance to do their part, to have their voice heard. One of my husband’s many mottos is “don’t complain about something if you’re not willing to do something about it.” He’s right! If you don’t get out and cast your choice for the person you want to represent YOUR country, you have no right to crank about anything he or she does, at least not for the next four years, that is.
As a military family, exercising our right to vote is very special to us. We take great pride in our duty, both as servants to the American people and as American people ourselves. Just like civilians, we pay taxes, buy milk at the corner store, send our children to local schools, depend on public services like police and fire departments and patronize businesses in local economies. We feel the pain and recognize the issues just like anyone else. Likewise, we also have a supreme understanding of sacrifice, devotion to duty and honor.
If anything, let this be an opportunity to teach your children about what it means to vote, or at least how to say the word “vote.” Even though Emma is only 18 months old, we taught her the word, and although it sounds identical to “boat,” it’s the principle. We want her to learn early on the value of independent thinking and how to make informed choices.
We like to play a game at our house. We give Emma choices: “Do you want an apple or a banana?” “Would you rather read the book, or go to the park?” “Which shirt do you want to wear: the pink shirt or the purple shirt?” Emma gets to choose which things are important to her, and she’s learning that some of the choices she makes come with consequences that she has to overcome. When we show our children that voting, or choices, are important and engage them in the process, they will take an interest.
We are blessed to live in a country where we have the right to have our voices heard. Teach your children that their voice matters, too. They need to appreciate democracy and the freedoms it brings. Voting is not only a privilege, but an honor and a responsibility.