For those of you who clicked this link thinking, I'm finally going to find out who Paul voted for, you're wrong. It's not those kind of "thoughts." However, I have been pondering some things the last few days, and figured now that the votes have been cast, I can finally share.
I'm not trying to anger anyone. I'm not pushing my beliefs on anyone. These thoughts have nothing to do with my political beliefs - they are geared towards my beliefs about politics.
Yesterday, I was cancelled from work. Naturally, I grabbed my laptop and USB and headed to Borders for some extra writing time. As my favorite barista steamed the nonfat milk for my Pumpkin Spice Latte, she asked if I had voted. I told her I had. The rest of our conversation went something like this:
Barista: I'm going after my shift at 5:30. That's horrible - do you know what kind of a mad house it will be?
Me: Honestly, I walked right in this morning. I've passed my precinct four times and never once have seen a line.
Barista: Ugh! I want everyone out in line.
Me: It doesn't seem like there has been a great turnout in our area. Honestly, I almost didn't vote because all they do is attack each other. The only reason I voted was so I had the right to complain later on, and because I appreciate the privilege to do so.
Barista: It's awful - all they do is attack the opponent. I don't even know what their positions are on the issues, and I don't want to go to the Internet to find out. They have enough commercials on TV and the radio that I should know who is going to do what.
It was her last comment that had me thinking, you are absolutely right! If they are going to annoy me with messages, signs, and commercials, they better include some facts. Ironically, every campaign ad seems to talk more about the opposing candidate. I think that is why a lot of people don't vote. They don't know who to vote for, and the campaigning doesn't help us decide.
My second thought: I'm a former social studies teacher. In these classes, we talk a lot about voting, yet are told to remain neutral and allow the students to make their own decisions. I believe in that 100%. Therefore, I get offended when my news feed on facebook is inundated with comments like these:
- Remember to vote right today.
- Get out and vote, as long as you're voting democrat.
- Happy Election Day! Just don't vote republican!!!
- Vote Republican - show Obama what we think of his leadership.
Sorry, I don't think that is appropriate. In fact, it may actually sway people (like myself a lot of the time) to not vote at all.
Voting is a privilege. We perform that privilege based on our personal BELIEFS. That is why they are called political beliefs. If the correct answer existed, we wouldn't be voting at all. I do not think anyone has the right to tell someone else what their opinion should be. We all form them based on who we are and what our ideas, morals, ethics, and yadda yadda yadda are.
Therefore, I was disturbed to see comments like this today:
- The [gosh darn] south screwed us again. Why do we even let hicks vote? Can they even read?
- America, you baffle me. I thought we were composed of intelligent citizens.
- I live in a country with idiots. I hope you are proud of what you have done.
You get the idea. And I'm sorry, but it's not okay. You can't tell someone they are stupid for having an opinion, even if it happens to contradict your own. You can't make fun of someone, belittle them, or attack their judgment simply because you believe differently. That is why we have the right to think for ourselves. And even though your beliefs differ, they obviously voted for what works for them. We all have that right.
It's anecdotes like these that make me remain Independent (even though I typically vote the same way every election). I don't want to be associated with a party, or members of a party, who attack, make fun of, and bully the competition. Again, focus on yourselves and convince me I should vote for you.
I hate when someone tells me who I should vote for (i.e. my parents, friends, or the teachers union). It is MY vote, and I'll decide who I feel is going to work best for ME -without help from anyone else. I don't post my opinions and I don't share which lever I pull. And guess what, I don't need to know who you voted for either. Or who you think I should vote for.
I often wonder if politicians are helping spread the exact opposite of the anti-bullying message many of us try desperately to get across.
Just something to ponder....
I'm off to the gym!