A vote of confidence

Today is election day.  I don’t feel like I want to share all the gory details about who I’m voting for (not to mention how tedious that would be, considering there are other offices besides President of the United States to be voted upon).  However, there are a few thoughts that ran through my head as I considered what to write about today.

First, I can’t remember any other election in which people were so damn concerned about what others do with their reproductive systems.  Sheesh.  The venom with which I’ve heard people speak is beyond shrill.  The vast majority has come from people who want more explicit rules about what can or can’t be done with said parts and who has to pay for it.  You know what?  Just shut up.  Don’t like abortion?  Don’t have one.  Don’t like birth control?  Don’t use it.  Don’t like same-sex marriage?  Don’t marry someone of the same sex.  It’s kind of simple.  While you’re at it, please get your opinions out of other people’s pants, bedrooms, and reproductive tracts.

See, here’s the thing.  I saw this on a friend’s Facebook thread regarding the Maryland marriage vote:

I just hope they will remember that it’s about more than their individual religious beliefs, it’s about very real rights and benefits being denied to very real gay couples.

Exactly.  This may be a philosophical debate on your part, but it isn’t for the actual people being affected by the creation or enforcement of biased laws.  This isn’t some abstract concept for the people whose rights have been denied.  And it’s not just about having a license and a special title or a wedding band and a registry.  It’s about having the right to be called the next of kin at the hospital and being allowed to leave all your property to your spouse without having anyone be allowed to legally question your lucidity or force you to pay inheritance tax.  You can’t deny people rights just because your definition of marriage requires a certain combination of genitals.

Second, it’s important that we exercise our freedom to vote and go do it with confidence in our choices.  It’s not necessary to get nasty about your political party or your opinion on the other candidate.  “I hate the other guy” is not a valid reason to vote for a candidate.  If you can’t find a good enough argument in favor of your candidate, you might want to rethink your politics.  It should be enough to argue for the person for whom you cast your vote.  Please also keep in mind that the President of the United States actually doesn’t have the power to single-handedly “destroy” the country, nor does he or she have the power to restore it to some unspecified glory.

Third, a vote for a third-party candidate is not a throw-away vote.  I’m not going to tell you that you should cast one, but if you are considering not voting third-party based solely on the notion that you might be responsible for the “wrong” person ending up in office, you don’t need to worry.  That’s the kind of lie that staunch people on both sides of the two-party divide like to use to convince you to agree with them about their candidate.  It’s a scare tactic, and sadly, it works far too often.  If you want to vote for someone other than a Democrat or a Republican, for any office, then you are free to do so.  Your vote belongs to you, not to someone else trying to frighten you into siding with them.  I made that mistake exactly once; never again.  In each election, I need to look at what I do and don’t like about every single person running, not just the ones getting all the publicity.

Finally, make sure you do get out there and vote.  This is particularly important for people who are not white, male homeowners.  People who came before us fought long and hard to make sure that every citizen has the right to vote.  I want my children to see that.  I want them to watch me doing legally what my forebears were arrested and fined for doing.

Go out there and make a difference.

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