This is not the first presidential election to matter—they all do. But, there is a very real direction this election could take us and thus end all credibility for our country. This is not a strictly partisan opinion. Many Republicans are facing some tough choices: to vote their party, to switch to Hillary, vote for some independent with no chance in hell of winning, or to sit this one out. And many Democrats are feeling the same.
As a Democrat with an extra dose of Pinko-Liberalism, I am not always completely on board with everything my candidate puts forth, but generally through the years, I have felt pretty damn proud of the person I vote for to be our country’s CEO. Rarely have I been able to maintain strong passion for their presidential choices and decisions during their terms of office—but I figure they are between a rock and a hard spot and have to make compromises. I get it. I will, despite occasional head shaking and screams of “Grow a pair”, always feel a deep and abiding respect and love for Obama and know that I may never get to really like another president this much. BUT, this is not a popularity contest; this is an election and a future that needs the most experienced, grounded and intelligent person to win. Trump simply is not up to speed. Even those of you who embrace his ideas must come to terms with the fact that he has no experience to effectively manage and contribute to the free world.
I did “like” Bernie more than Hillary and was pulling for him, voted for him in our primary, but with the personal belief that, frankly, Hillary Clinton would be the more qualified for a vast number of reasons. Still feelin’ the Bern, but I slapped some aloe on it and now I am ready to vote for the first woman president of the United States—pretty cool stuff.
Okay, we know without a doubt who I am voting for and endorsing, but I would like to focus for the moment on the act of voting—regardless of who you choose for this November 8 or in future local, state and national elections. The most important thing is to be a card-carrying registered voter and to exercise that right—a right that many in this world today still do not possess.
Are you registered? If not, why not? It costs nothing and takes very little time or effort to sign up for a stake in this democracy. And you will not automatically get stuck with jury duty (this is a common concern) because you are ALREADY in the system if, for example, you have a driver’s license or state ID. Perhaps you want to vote, but are an ex-felon—no problem. You will present papers showing your time has been served; and any other questions about this are answered at geauxvote.com. Is it too late for this election? No, if you register by October 11, 2016, you are eligible for November 8 (again: geauxvote.com for any and all details).
Being a registered voter should make you proud. There have been many an election locally when I felt lukewarm about the choice of candidates, but I never felt less than goose-bumpy proud to enter my polling place, sign my name, and go into the booth to affect change, make a difference. Sometimes I vote the lesser of two evils, as they say. Sometimes I vote with enthusiasm and commitment. In presidential elections, I have always praised even those on the other side of my preferred ideology for taking part in the process—because if you don’t vote, you cannot complain. Simple, you are either a part of our democracy or not. We do not always have to agree, but we have to participate in life.
Respectful as I try to be to all voters, I must admit that there are those elections when I feel you just have to try to sway someone with the facts. Take the David Duke/Edwin Edwards gubernatorial election of 1991, when a vote for Edwards (whose campaign slogan was: “Vote for the Crook—It’s Important!”) was a vote against a neo-Nazi and the powerful economic boycott against Louisiana that was in place to take effect if we allowed Duke to win. Our state and our city of New Orleans had so much to lose (tourism dollars, funding and the respect of the world) if David Duke had become our governor. Rotten as Edwards was, he was the better choice—a classic case of “the lesser of two evils”. Sadly, this happens all too often in elections. Still, there are those energizing and positive moments in city, state and national elections when you really get to feel like a million bucks for having taken a few minutes to push a button.
Voting is a right that was long overdue for many Americans until the 20th Century. Women did not win the vote until 1920. And, despite the 15th amendment in 1870, it took the Voting Act of 1965 for Black Americans to receive the vote in full. Native Americans had to wait until 1957 to receive full voter rights—yeah, our country’s first indigenous people, forefathers, our original Americans had to fight for what was their God-given right. It was after 1952 before all Asian-Americans could vote. In addition, there are so many more citizens and residents of our country who have had to fight and push to be fully allowed to have a voice in America. As poor as our nation’s record on voter rights is and has been, we should never forget how lucky we are when compared with other countries today. Even our young voters can remember that Black South Africans did not get to vote until 1994.
The times they are a-changing, but will that change be for all and will it be positive? Only you can decide. Vote this November 8 as if your life depended upon it.