The first memory I have of voting was back in 1984. I was in first grade at Pine Hill Elementary School. The principal decided to hold a mock election. We wrote our choice on a slip of paper and dropped it into a shoebox by the end of lunch time on Election Day. Since the only name I recognized was Ronald Reagan, that’s who I wrote on my slip of paper. Obviously, a bunch of elementary school students’ votes aren’t counted. But that day emblazoned in my little mind just how important voting is.
Growing up, I was taught that your choice is YOUR choice. You don’t have to justify your decision — you vote for who you think best represents the United States, and who you think is best qualified to do the job. I can tell you right now, being President is an unenviable, thankless job. You will never do anything right, you will always be cast as an idiot, and you will always be the person that someone didn’t vote for. I feel enough of that in my everyday life. There’s no way I’d want that kind of scrutiny placed on my life, each moment of each day. Nope, no thanks. I’ll pass.
I’m not going to make an appeal as to who you should vote for. If you’re my friend, I love you regardless of politics. If you’re my family, we’re related and we’ll probably have to see each other at family functions, so I don’t want to know. Your choice is yours, and my choice is mine. The media have been screaming at us to vote this way, vote that way — dividing us even further than the candidates themselves. This election is going down in history no matter who wins or loses. It is a pivotal moment when the curtain is pulled back and we are revealed as who we truly are as a nation. Do we let the bitterness of politics divide and conquer? Or do we stand up and reconcile? Whoever is voted into office tomorrow will not be able to heal the deep rifts in our society. But maybe, just maybe *we* can. Call me an optimist, but I choose to believe that we can dust ourselves off, hold out our hands to help bring each other up instead of pushing each other down. I have to believe this. If not for our generation, then for our kids. They are watching us, even when we don’t think they are. Our apples don’t fall far from the trees, friends. Behavior is often learned…from us.
I’ve voted for both parties, independents, and written in names. The most important thing you can do is make your voice heard. Vote. Even with the slim pickings, voting is vital to our democracy. Forget about the electoral college and thinking your vote doesn’t count. It does. Anyone remember the 2000 election? It came down to 537 votes. In a country of more than 318 million citizens, it came down to 5-3-7. Friends, it counts.
If all else fails, Vote for Pedro.