So, in case you didn't notice, this is an election year. In light of the fact that the news has been filled with reports from both major parties' national conventions, I guess you would have to be living in a cave not to be aware. I like election years. Have you ever thought about what an amazing privilege we have to participate in influencing the future of our country through voting?
It's amazing. We can form our opinions and cast our votes without fear of retribution or condemnation from our government. Not always without fear of retribution and insults from friends or family, I'm afraid, but even that is one more amazing and great part of being a citizen of this society. We are allowed to think differently. We are allowed to have opinions about how our COUNTRY - the United States of America - is run, and they don't have to be the same as anyone else's! How awesome and special is that?
Do you feel the solemn responsibility that goes along with such a privilege? Contemplating these big thoughts made me feel like this would be a good time to tell you how to vote. Nobody ever really told me how to vote before, so consider this a service from me to you. I remember the very first time I went to the polls when I was 18 years old. I was so excited, and nervous. After I sat down and felt confident I understood how to mark my ballot, I realized I hadn't heard of most of the people or proposals that were listed! I freaked out! It had not occurred to me that I might want to gather some information before I went to the polls.
Those are both significant parts of knowing how to vote - first, make sure you view it as the awesome responsibility and privilege it is, and then, educate yourself about what you will be voting for. There are some steps to this process:
1. Take time to think about all the different issues we face in our world and as a society, both local and national. Really contemplate them, and make a list of the issues that make you feel the most concerned - and those that are very clearly hot topics for the election season.
2. After you know what your concerns are - start doing some research on those issues. Read whatever you can find about them - gather all the information you can. Find out what people are saying from all different perspectives. Think about what they are saying. Consider them in light of the world as you know it. Question them. How would certain policies affect you? How would they affect the people in your life? Those in our society? The world? Think it all through - and figure out for YOURSELF, based on YOUR research, what you think and believe.
3. Think about the candidates who are running. Research them. Read literature from their own parties and from other parties. Try to pick out how they are being spun. Look at their experiences, history, accomplishments, things they have done throughout the years that were newsworthy. Find out how their beliefs line up with yours. Remember, there are more people who are running for offices or positions than just the president. Research all those who pertain to where you live.
4. Record what you find out. Write all the issues down - and what you think about them. Write what you discover about the candidates. Think some more as you decide how you will vote.
5. Make a list of how you will vote on all the different issues and in all the races. Take it with you to the polls so you don't forget or get bogged down.
And there you have it! In order to vote, you have to know what you value, educate yourself, research, and apply your critical thinking skills. It might seem like a lot of work, but when you consider the enormous responsibility and privilege it is to vote, it really isn't.
That's how to vote. Exactly what you thought this blog would be about, right? I mean, I did say "how to vote", not "who to vote for"...
Happy Election Season!!!