Vote! (Just don’t vote for Rick Perry)

I’m dwindling off-topic slightly, but bear with me just this once:

Attention American readers: Elections are next month and I’m reminding you to vote. It’s so incredibly important that you do. Even if you don’t like the politicians, even if you don’t think any of them will be any good, even if you think your one vote won’t count, vote. People fought hard for us to have the freedom to vote, and these elections matter. Yea, so you think all politicians are scum – at least vote for the lesser of two evils. It breaks my heart when people say they don’t care – because that’s how things got this bad in the first place: because people didn’t care and continue not to care.

Don’t just blindly vote, and don’t just vote for whomever your boss or preacher told you to vote for. Go find out today who is running in your local elections and do some research on them before election day. Then vote for someone who sounds inspiring or at least vote for someone who sounds the least sucky. Listen to the wise words of Bill Maher:

When it comes to voting… you gotta grow up and realize there is a difference between a disappointing friend and a deadly enemy.

Fine, so you find all the candidates to be disappointing, but realize that some of them aren’t just disappointing, they are down right dangerous. Vote for the disappointing guy so the dangerous guy doesn’t win.

Don’t just worry about the big elections – the gubernatorial or senatorial elections. There are a lot of smaller, local community elections you need to care about because those elections directly affect your neighborhoods and cities. If you don’t care about the governor or the senators, fine, but care about your local elections. Don’t bitch later if you didn’t bother to vote.

Go visit your local campaign headquarters and ask questions, get flyers and get informed. Maybe even get involved. Maybe even find out how you or someone you know can run for election next time if you think all the candidates are so terrible.

If you need an absentee ballot, order it now. For the rest of you, do your homework starting now to find out when and where you vote (some states have early voting, and I suggest you take advantage of it) so there are no excuses later.

I don’t even care who you vote for (although if you are in Texas and you vote for Rick Perry I might just have to come and kick you in the teeth), just get out and vote, and not just any vote: make an informed vote.

And next month, after the elections are over, don’t just stop then until the next time I nag you to vote. Get involved in your local communities. Get interested in local politics, get involved with various groups that help protect your rights, volunteer in your communities, try to help make the lives of people in your local area better. There are a plethora of opportunities that you don’t even know about and won’t until you start getting involved (and no, they don’t all involve kids). Find something you believe in and get involved. Check your newspaper or your local library or various local bulletin boards and you might just stumble upon opportunities. You’re unlikely to find those opportunities if you don’t start looking, though.

Working in your community can be a great experience. You’ll find it’s actually good for you and gives you a sense of pride, of being a part of something bigger than yourself. If you tried it once before and didn’t like it, try something different this time. Two years ago Obama told us not to believe in his ability to create change, but to believe in our own. Maybe you don’t like Obama much, but he’s right. We must believe in our own ability to create change. Change begins with individuals; change begins with you.

I often get tired of listening to the mommy crowd whine that “the community” doesn’t do enough for families (i.e. unemployed mommies), and I always find myself bitching at them that “YOU are part of the community. If YOU aren’t doing anything, YOU are part of the problem!” But actually, that applies to all of us. Too many of us just exist in our communities without trying to be a part of them. I’m asking you to be a part of your community. Look out for the best interests of the community as a whole, look out for fairness and equality for everyone, not just the mommies and their special snowflakes. If we do nothing, we let them roll right over us and then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

If you want a better community, you have to make a better community. In the wise words of Phil Collins and Genesis:

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in

It begins with voting, but it doesn’t end there.

Whenever I hear people say they don’t want to be bothered with voting, it breaks my heart a little. I think of the women who fought so hard so I would have the right to vote today. And about the African-Americans who had to fight so hard to be able to vote without being lynched so that my husband could vote today. And all the soldiers who died believing in this country — in all wars, not just the recent ones that no one seems to believe in. After everything these people fought for, do I have a right to take my freedom to vote for granted?

Sure, I have just one little vote. But maybe in writing this I convinced five other people to vote, and maybe they’ll convince five more and maybe my “one little vote” and my “one little voice” can somehow make a difference (but I’m serious, if you vote for Rick Perry I’m gonna get you!). I owe it to everyone who fought for freedom to take the time to vote and to take the time to write this.

Forgive me for floating off topic briefly. I promise I’ll soon be back to my regularly scheduled rants. I have a good one almost ready, if only I can get the graphic right.