By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal
By the time this column prints, the 2012 Presidential Election will be over, the culmination of years of campaigning, billions of dollars and what seems like an endless number of debates.
I’ve voted in both presidential elections since I turned 18. I usually keep my voting preferences to myself, unless someone asks. And I don’t brag about it, but I do like to encourage my friends to vote as well.
Often, they respond with one of the following:
– “I am too busy to vote.”
– “It doesn’t matter if I vote anyway, I’m just one vote.”
– “I live in a red state, so there is no reason to vote.”
Regardless of what reason you may have had for not voting, none of them are valid.
First, being too busy to vote simply means you don’t value the freedom you have to vote. Voting is not an inherent right. It was one that was earned by the blood, sweat and tears of Americans over the past three centuries, whether it was Revolutionary soldiers, women in the early 20th century, or civil rights volunteers in the 1960s. It is a right that is defended by thousands of men and women in military service every day. To not value your freedom to vote means devaluing the sacrifice of Americans, both past and present. If you have time to watch TV, get on Facebook or send a text message, you have time to vote.
Secondly, it does matter if you vote. No, the election does not hinge on your one vote. But can you imagine the pressure if it did? Besides, how narcissistic is it to demand that your vote have international consequence? Have you done anything to deserve this power? One of the beautiful things about a vote is that yours means as much as anyone else’s. All voting-age Americans are equal in this aspect of our society.
And finally, just because Texas is a primarily Republican state, doesn’t mean your vote doesn’t matter. It means you’ve done your civic duty, even if you live in a “winner-take-all state.” Also, a significant amount of votes in a red or blue state the opposite way could be part of the impetus to changing the way electoral college votes are tallied in the future.
Besides, there are a variety of political races. In the Hunt County primary elections, one city council race was decided by less than 15 votes. Your vote in local elections is even more significant than in national ones.
Voting for a third party candidate is not throwing away your vote, either. More than anything, voting is a positive action for you personally. It means you’ve engaged in the process, you’ve exercised your vote, and you’ve participated in a national political dialogue. People throughout history have died for these rights. These are all characteristics of a patriotic, civic-minded American, which is what all Americans should strive for.
In the end, who you vote for matters far less than the fact that you voted.