No matter how you feel about this year’s Presidential nominees, the fact that we have the right to vote sets us apart from many other nations. And as much as we seem to enjoy complaining about the tactics and off-putting behaviors of the candidates, at least we get to choose our flavor of imperfection. (It still boggles my mind sometimes that we expect or hope for a perfect candidate who has zero flaws or skeletons lying around. Where did we ever get a crazy idea like that?)
While it may be tempting to consider opting-out of casting a vote altogether this year (I mean, it’s certainly one way to avoid taking credit or blame for the country’s future debacles, right?), having the courage to speak up, cast a vote, and make your opinion known is an act of self-care.
Yesterday, I slid my ballot into the drop box just outside the local City Hall – and oh boy did it feel great to get it crossed off my list!
But I have to admit, I am soooo ready to stop seeing political posts on social media, and I won’t lie and say that I haven’t hidden a few of my friends on Facebook because of that either. The beauty of a news feed is that you get to choose what you see. It’s not that I’m denying or ignoring the fact that there are opinions that differ from my own, it’s that I choose not to subject my brain to them 24/7. We have to give ourselves a break from thinking sometimes. And besides, a random political rant isn’t likely going to change my opinion at this point.
It is a bit comical how defensive Americans get when the topic of politics comes up, though. Even in casual conversations, words and demeanors can turn vicious in a matter of minutes.
A friend of mine who became a naturalized citizen just a couple of years ago helped me gain some new insights during the 2012 election. Evidently, in many other countries discussing politics doesn’t automatically turn sour when two people disagree. There isn’t a debate about who’s right or wrong. Instead, it presents an opportunity to discuss issues that have an impact on day to day life. And more than that, it’s an opportunity to discuss potential solutions.
To me, it sounded totally bizarre at first. I can’t remember the last time I participated in, heard, or overheard a political conversation that wasn’t emphatically argumentative. But given that I can’t stand confrontations, and will do almost anything to avoid them, the idea of having a rational conversation about a contentious political hot-button issue sounded intriguing to me.
While a Presidential vote certainly impacts our personal lives on a larger scale, we cast votes every day. We vote for companies and their products when we make purchases. We vote for or against our relationships with energy we devote to them. And sometimes we even vote on ourselves when we choose to take action (or remain complacent) when something in life makes us unhappy.
We vote every single day.
And let’s face it, not making a choice is still making a choice.