This was moved off the main page because it was so long. The comments will be added as well but under my name. Thanks!
I need to preface this post with a disclaimer. First and foremost I have nothing but respect and admiration for anyone that has served, is still serving, and will serve in our military. What you do allows me to say what I am going to say, what you do is far more important than anything I could ever hope to achieve and I hope one day I will be able to do something to show my gratitude. I also want to dedicate this to my father and my grandfather, two men that showed me what it was/means to be patriotic, compassionate, outspoken, understanding and, most importantly, respectful.
To those of you reading this that have strong opinions, please express them; those of you that don’t really care one way or the other, I hope this post encourages you to think for yourself and find the answers. These ideas I am about to present will most likely infuriate, frustrate and confound you, but they will make you think; please don’t let that get in the way of pondering them.
Here is some context. I am an American, I am a Christian, and I was raised in a “Baptist” church and in a primarily Conservative family and married into one as well, I am an Independent but I think the Elephants and Donkeys have it all wrong. I have always thought for myself and very rarely do I do/say something because it is what is expected. I couldn’t wait to vote and was very disappointed that I was 17 in the 2000 elections; I made up for it in the 2002 elections as well as the 2004 elections. I voted, I encouraged voting, I guilted my peers (then apathetic young adults that could careless) into voting. I was a believer.
So what happened? Did I drink the anti-establishment kool-aide? No. Did I start listening to some conspiracy psychopath? No. Am I looking to stir up people, play devil’s advocate? Maybe but still not 100% correct. I woke up one day and thought that even though it’s my “right” and my “duty” to vote, what are my true motivations to cast a ballot? What am I actually saying with my vote, not who I am voting for, but what am I endorsing?
I know, we all compromise some for the greater good, but if I lived in a country where I had to choose between dictatorship or democracy (each having their +’s and –‘s) I would want democracy (even with all of it’s pitfalls). Fortunately, I don’t have to make that decision, so this leaves me the FREEDOM to question our system of politics.
This is my statement; the way our political system works within our democracy is broken. Do you agree? Disagree? Please don’t misconstrue as “our idea of democracy is broken…” or “we aren’t truly free.” (If I go missing tomorrow then the latter might be true :) . )
I choose to not vote because every vote further perpetuates the system that I don’t think should operate the way it does. How can I vote for someone who is doing exactly what I want them to change? How can you calmly sit there and watch millions of dollars go down the drain? For the Christians out there and those that generally encourage love, how can you vote for a person that slanders and “hates” his opponent on TV, in Print, and on the web? How can you say that this is the system that is ideal for us to participate in? How has it become “OK” to settle with what we have?
For example, if I don’t agree with Walmart’s or Target’s labor actions, should I still shop there? What if I was told over and over again it is my duty to shop there? What if all my peers shopped there and told me that I am immature and disrespectful to not shop there? What if I was told that if I spend enough money at one of these places, they might find and pay the right CEO to change their labor policy, should I shop there? Or do I make my stand and abstain? I know I don’t have enough money or connections to start another store and offer a second, better option, but that doesn’t mean I complacently go along with the crowd. It means I stand outside of their door and make noise, explain what they are doing and how we have all been brainwashed into thinking that the more we participate in a broken system the more chance we have of it changing!!! That doesn’t sound completely out of the question, does it?
I ask a question from time to time on my blog and it illustrates how we got here. How do you boil a frog? When you know the answer to that question and look back to the beginning of this country, you will see what I mean.
This didn’t happen overnight, these people are not stupid, and by in large we do not like drastic change, we will “jump” out of the pot, if you will. I have been “told” my whole life to reject peer pressure, think for myself, and avoid manipulation at all costs…yet these “politicians” hire strategists to better “manipulate” my thinking, they have even gone so far as to encourage peer pressure to “get out the Vote” – look at Facebook today. I can’t get rid of the “Commit to Vote” and “So and so voted, did you?” applications. Modern day peer pressure – the only difference is the “action” is approved, not like doing drugs and other illicit things. How is this not flagged as contradictory?
We as people have been convinced that this is “good enough” – well good enough doesn’t cut it for me and it didn’t for our forefathers. Settling for what we have is not only wrong, it is devastating to our future and our FREEDOM. Voting has lost it’s, for lack of a better word, “umph,” people cast their vote and use it as an excuse for doing their “duty” as a citizen. We don’t need campaign’s to get people to vote, we need campaign’s that get people to become informed and make a decision, then let them decide if there is a worthy candidate to vote for, if not, encourage them to abstain.
I fully appreciate my right and FREEDOM to vote, I am overwhelmingly moved by the sacrifice that has gone into this right, however, I also have a right and the FREEDOM to not vote and to speak up and tell you why. Please don’t leave comments saying I am apathetic, lazy, unpatriotic or any other type of insult, I will not dignify them with a response because it is clear you do not understand where I am coming from. This is a post to encourage more thought then most politicians put into their platforms. This is a call to be truly patriotic and not just cast a vote for something, but to take a stand for something.
I am a person of action, I want this to be different, give me suggestions to change the system (other than voting please.) Challenge me, I encourage it. I have a ton more to say, but this is long enough and I figure I will have plenty of explaining to do in the comments section. Please, forgive me for not being a superb or eloquent writer; I do the best I can to get my point across. If there is something spelled wrong or if I used incorrect grammar, please don’t let that negatively impact what I am trying to say. If you would like to proof read it and send me a Word doc. that would be great :) but not necessary.
Thanks for reading and I hope this moves you to action and not accept the status quo for quo’s sake!