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Voting: not just a right, a responsibility

December 2, 2007

Every year, citizens go to the polls to exercise their right to vote. There are two main types of elections: primary and general. Because the process is geared toward a two party system, it is exceedingly difficult for any but members of the Democrat Party or the Republican Party to put forth viable candidates.

The primary election season is similar to the old children’s game, musical chairs. At first there are several contestants. While the polls are open, the music is playing. The votes are counted and the candidate with the most votes gets the chair.

The general election is more like a beauty pageant, with all but the finalists eliminated. The finalists are made up of candidates from each of the two main political parties. The candidate receiving the majority of votes wins the job of representing his or her constituents.

The one exception to the general election is that the office of President of the United States is decided not by popular vote, but by the Electoral College.

Because we’re currently in the primary election season, I’ll direct my remarks toward that portion of the election process.

The primary election season begins with the old media, made up of newspapers and television news, telling us which candidates can win. Sometimes they do this even before a person announces his or her candidacy. We’re also told that a potent indicator of the probability of victory is the amount of money raised by the political party and the individual candidates. The old media must truly believe that to be true, because candidates with little campaign financing drop off the scope until something deemed truly newsworthy occurs. I’ll use the candidacy of Mike Huckabee for demonstration purposes. Because his campaign didn’t have a financial war chest, he was marginalized by the old media until recent Iowa polling data put him back in the news.

We’re fed poll results that confirm what the old media has been telling us. Thus we go to the polls, armed with the knowledge of which candidate we should select so our votes are not “wasted.” I’ve never quite figured that one out.  How does supporting the candidate of your choice amount to a “wasted” vote? If you exercise your right to vote, your vote is never wasted. It is only when you don’t go to the polls that your opportunity to make your voice heard in the political process is wasted.

The candidate you support should be chosen through a process whereby each of his or her political positions is evaluated to determine whether the position is congruous with our Constitution. Next, determine whether the candidate will actually represent you in the government.

Voting is a right guaranteed to citizens. Even more than a right, it is a responsibility. It’s time to take our country back. Will you accept your responsibility as a citizen or will you, through apathy, allow others to choose for you?

Until next time,
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