I picked up my favorite sticker yesterday and it didn’t cost me a dime.
Of course, it wasn’t free either. We all know that.
I earned that sticker by casting my ballot although, even as I proudly stuck it on my sweater, just under my left collar-bone and above my heart, I understood that so many others deserved much more credit for my cool little accessory.
When I vote, I think about the suffragettes, many of whom fought fiercely, risked everything. and never got to cast a single vote. I honor the military, our human, global force field and some of the finest men and women I know. Sometimes the inalienable rights we enjoy in the course of our ordinary lives depend on the 24-hour bravery of a lonely kid in a dusty foxhole. I like to remember that when I breeze into a voting both to make my choice.
I also think about the candidates. Though their efforts vary, they all put their names on the line, and that’s not an easy thing to do. I love grass roots politics, the door-to-door, town meeting, stick a yard sign in the ground, baby kissing, hand shaking, speech making, corn on the cob eating, letter writing, hullabaloo that brings the candidates to the people.
I find genuine political debate fascinating and, if someone is willing to share, I’m always interested in what convinces a voter to choose one candidate over the other.
I’m all for a good protest too. Stand up for what you believe in! March! Make the phone call! Defend your beliefs!
But, if you really want to make a difference, you have to vote.
Want to support the disenfranchised? Vote.
Defend fiscal responsibility? Vote.
Protect rights? Vote. Allow access? Vote. Deny access? Vote.
It’s easy to post comments from a comfy chair in your living room. It’s exciting to link arms and march on Washington. It’s satisfying to send an email from a link in your Facebook feed.
But, if you really want your voice to stand for something in this country, you have to vote. Consistently. In the big, bright national elections and in the quiet local ones too.
You can make the signs, tweet the sound bites, wear the T-shirts and shout as loud as you want.
But, if you have the legal right to do so and you don’t vote, you’re not really saying anything at all.