Voting – It is our fundamental right and responsibility as an American citizen.
From an early age, it was pounded into my head that voting is both a fundamental right and civic responsibility. Our dining table was more often than not a center for political discussions. Though my parents were traditionally Republicans, we were taught to vote for the candidate, not the party. They would be appalled on all fronts today.
There is a local proposition on the ballot this mid-term election. In my opinion, it is a divisive, ill-conceived, ill-logical plan to establish term limits for the city council and mayor. A group of frustrated citizens wrote a proposition, deceived some into signing it by not explaining all the retroactive aspects, and it made the ballot.
What strategic timing on their part. We are all frustrated with long-term politicians holding office beyond their effectiveness. That is what voting is for – to let them know they are being held accountable for the office they hold.
We are seeing record voting turn-outs all across the nation in an effort to let our voice be heard. It is one thing that we hold in common with one another – wanting our voices to be heard.
Be the solution – not the problem.
In my head and heart, Dad’s voice rings through every time the polls open. “You are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution.” The legacy my parents left us is that we do not miss an election and the ballot is discussed openly and freely.
Two weeks ago was the opening day of early voting; I smiled, waved and held a sign next to where the voters were driving into the cramped parking lot. Some ignored me. Others smiled and waved back. And there were a select few who were truly rude. It baffled me.
This is my Arlington, my hometown where I grew up. The economy in my hometown is amazing. It is healthy and thriving. We have been voted the best of everything so many times, it is hard to keep track. The school system has gotten many awards. In fact, the school named after my dad has received constant recognitions for the past three years.
But there are some who always want to focus on the negative.
For someone to be rude because I was holding a sign they did not agree with, like I said, baffles me. I was not shouting and in fact, never even talked about the proposition unless I was approached. I did parking lot duty, held up branches of a tree for cars wanting to park in the end spot, told them where to park in the back, and tried to let those with handicap stickers know how long a wait they were in for.
I even went over and gave the opposition a hug and told them regardless of the outcome, they were still my neighbors. Some, however, appeared not to agree with the sentiment.
One woman driving by had her window partially open and a young man sitting in the front passenger seat. The young man gave me a friendly wave, while the woman – well, she snarled at me.
“I hate that woman,” I heard her say disgustedly to the boy in the passenger seat. I was stunned, to say the least.
And the young man looked stunned too. Since her window was open, I replied, “but you don’t even know me.”
Another woman with a handicap sticker kept jabbing her finger at me while she drove by. That was perplexing enough, but then when she went over to the “opposition” and kept jabbing her finger with anger and hate filling her expression, I was trying to figure out what I had done to her.
All I did was smile, wave and hold a sign she did not agree with. And the response was hate, anger and lots of manic jabbing.
Where have we come as a nation?
Quick to anger, finger pointing, hate-filled speakers, and derisive words. No wonder our media coverage is filled with shootings.
Yes, we have allowed the heightened hate speech to thrive, which results in shooting those we do not like. Our words speak volumes in either lifting up or tearing each other down. We must take a stand and not allow anger or hate to be our common communication tool.
We are responsible for every word that passes our lips or keyed in an email, text or post.
We, the people. We are responsible.
We have to take a stand, not for or against all those running but against the hate-filled speech.
A little empathy goes a long way.
I listened to the city council meetings where the “opposition” made their stand. I was embarrassed for my community at the anger and hate behind their words. After careful consideration, thought and discussion, I came to the conclusion that Prop E was not the type of term limits that should be in my hometown. They are extreme. If voted in, half the council and the mayor would be unable to run again. We would lose momentum as a city with all new members.
But what surprised me was the unleashed negative emotion of the opposition. Wow. If they knew the city council members, they would know that for a whole whopping $90 a month, they volunteer to be abused for close to fifty hours a week. And some put in many more hours than that in their communities. Before being so quick to judge, spend a day in an elected official’s shoes and you will be thankful they are doing the job AND that you do not have to.
So when the call came to volunteer at the polls, I did. But, I knew all I wanted to do was love on my neighbors that decided to come to the poll on opening day. Smile, wave, and hold my sign.
Love can overcome hate, right? Or so I thought.
You are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution. There is no in between. It starts with you. Be a part of the solution.
Look up your local elections. What is on the ballot? Read it thoroughly.
What are the far-reaching implications should you vote for one candidate or another? What is the integrity of the candidates?
Consider all aspects. Do not take anyone’s word for it – do your own research. Go to a variety of sources. I cannot believe the number of lies that are published and spouted during a campaign. I see so many of these lies posted on Facebook as truths. Leave emotion out of your decision. Be wise.
But bear in mind, being part of the solution does not mean what you voted for always wins. You are part of the solution because you made the choice to vote for what you had researched and decided.
If another candidate wins, how can you help them represent your concerns? Let them know. Get involved in government. Volunteer. But continuing to stir up anger or hate because your candidate or proposition did not pass causes societal cancer.
The need for voting is not only in my backyard but all across the country. If you can legally vote, then do so on November 6th.
Be nice. Be kind. Be part of the solution.
[After I wrote and posted this blog, CBS Anchor John Dickinson did a segment on CBS This Morning that was compelling. Watch here.]