Like many Americans (although probably not enough), I’ll go to the polls today to cast my ballot.
Unfortunately, I won’t be doing it because there are people I believe in for whom I wish to register my support. No, for the most part, I’ll be selecting what I, at least, perceive to be the lesser of two evils.
I won’t bore you with my complaints about how negative our election process has become. I’m sure most of you share similar frustrations. No matter which party or candidates we may support, I suspect we’re all fairly sick and tired of the tone of political campaigning.
So here’s a note for any candidates or potential candidates who may be reading this little rant of mine today:
I don’t want to hear what you’re against. If you use “war,” “fighting,” or “battle” language in your campaign materials, I’m not going to vote for you. If your platform is to impose your side’s political will over the other side, you will not get a check mark beside your name on my ballot.
And while I am interested in what it is you stand for, do you know what I really want to hear?
I want to hear about how you will work with people you disagree with, not against them. I want to hear about how you can provide leadership in seeking productive compromise. I want to know that you are willing to go beyond sloganeering to actually listen to all sides and engage in dialogue across ideological divides.
Because the truth is, people do have honest disagreements over the way things should be run in our government at all levels. People come into office with different perspectives on what are and are not problems and what may or may not be appropriate solutions.
I’m not looking for one candidate or one party to be in lockstep with my personal beliefs. I’m looking for real leaders who can objectively look at all angles of an issue and forge solutions that benefit the common good…not just the good of people who agree with them (or, for that matter, with me) on those particular issues.
I’m also looking for candidates who won’t let the media manipulate them into confrontation and conflict. One of the saddest trends in our country today has been the commoditization of the news. With apologies to some individual journalists I know who do stand against the tide, we can no longer trust the media (especially television) to provide us with objective information by which we can make informed decisions. The Fourth Estate has become just one more player in the drama, just one more voice screaming for our attention and our dollars.
So why vote at all? It’s a legitimate question. Some would argue that not voting is itself a vote, or at least a choice signaling dissatisfaction with the whole process. And, to be honest, there will be races on my ballot that will be left blank because I have been so offended by both candidates that I cannot in good conscious vote for either one.
But for all of our problems and faults in this country, I still believe our great experiment in democracy can be our highest virtue. We all have a voice, even if it is a tiny one, screaming out a feeble “Yop!” against all the cries to boil our collective dust speck (shout out to those of you who get the Dr. Seuss reference!).
So, please, go out today, and cast that ballot. Even if it is a “lesser of two evils” choice, it is, in the end, our choice.
But may we continue to demand something better from those asking us to choose them.