God Bless America

“It’s the end of the world as we know it … and I feel fine”

Or something like that. Dear reader(s), I hope you went out and voted today, but more importantly, I hope you educated yourself on the issues. Because no matter who wins, the world will not come to an end and America as we know it will not burst into flames, although Canada’s immigration officers will probably be busy. Recently, celebrity Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs weighed in on his choice for president. Which is to say, he didn’t. Go read it, it’s a good article.

I admit, I was less informed than I would have liked this election. Life got in the way. But I believe in the system. I believe in the American experiment and the idea of a representative (more or less) government. I believe some things need work, but getting back to Mr. Rowe’s words of wisdom, I also believe I need to educate myself before making sweeping statements about the electoral college or voter ID laws.

I almost sat this one out. I was two states away from my registered polling place, but (perhaps inspired by this recent George Washington kick) the thought of not exercising my American right made my stomach heavy. I have missed perhaps two elections (national, local, etc) since I turned 18 so without much forethought, I hopped in my car this morning and drove over 200 miles directly to my polling place and cast my vote. This made my stomach heavy for other, well documented and well lampooned reasons, and I sat there for a solid five minutes staring at the ballot, but I did it.

“Forgive me, Founding Fathers, for I have sinned. I voted in this election…”

election-1

I asked for two stickers to make myself feel better. Stickers make everything better.

The most depressing thing about this election, besides the fact that someone is going to win it, was figuring out how to vote absentee. I called the help line and the woman on the other line could not help me more than reading information from the website, and she did a poor job of that, to boot. I tried asking her specifics. She reread information from the website. Eventually she directed me to my county registrar’s hotline, which was a very thorough automated process that directed me to another website that still did not answer my questions. Which is why it was easier to drive 200 miles than figure out absentee voting.

We have been hearing for months – nay years (oh God, really??) about how important this election is and how important it is to go out and vote, make your voice heard, and pick/prevent the right/wrong person from becoming elected. If this election is so important, it is also important to understand how the process works. If it is important to understand how the process works, shouldn’t the help lines be staffed with people who can explain how it works? I know many underemployed history/civics/American studies students who would be more than happy to man a hotline if it means better educating the American Public about how this experiment works.

election-2

On the right side, the Republican sample ticket, is the actual text of what was on the ballot. On the left side is the Democratic sample ticket. I thought it was *really* interesting to see the editorializing of the issues at hand.

The next President will not have the power to do most of the things the public fears, ie make sweeping statements about outlawing or declaring unconstitutional a single issue. The down ballots are equally important – your Congresspeople, Senators, and local legislators make equally important decisions that often have more of an impact on your day-to-day life.

So go out and get educated. Go find out what your chosen candidate stands for. Find an argument against the other person based on fact and not on emotional rhetoric like “he’s a bad person” or “she’s a criminal”. No matter the truthiness levels of these statements, it’s going to take a lot more than that to run the country.

God Bless America.

Links:

Mike Rowe Shares his Wise Opinion on Voting

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