Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On Liberty, Megan style

I have an odd personality quirk. Actually, I'm not sure that it's a personality quirk as much as proof of my genius (or overall insanity, which really are one in the same). Whatever it is classified as, I can't help it. You see, I remember weird and random things. For example, I can tell you the store where I bought every single one of my 500+ CD's. That's a lot of stores.

I can also tell you where I have been and what I did on every single general election day and night for the past 7 years. And if I thought long enough, I could tell you what I was wearing too. As a democrat in Utah, I've had a lot of depressing election nights. I won't go into many details but let's just say tears and tequila have always been involved and that is not a good thing. TRUST ME.

As much as I try, I can't seem to get away from politics. Something/one always drags me back, kicking and screaming (usually Adam) and forces me to realize why it is I do this. I can't explain my sadomasochistic attraction and you'd think after having been beat up and let down so many times, I'd get tired and just give up. But I can't. Not until everyone sees things my way. (To my friends who read my personal blog: SHUT IT).

On election night 2002, the US Congress suffered a serious blow with many democratic losses. Here in Utah, our legislature took a severe turn to the right-again. Hope, one might say, was lost.

After hearing the results and drinking multiple shots of above referenced beverage, my friends and I went to Denny's. There we encountered a group of people our age who asked us why we were dressed up so nicely but so sad. We told them of our night. The reply of one guy has stuck with me: "I don't know why you care, I mean, the only election that really matters is for the President. That's why I only vote every 4 years." We stared at him in disbelief and Matthew began arguing with him how he was so very wrong. I learned that night it's not smart to argue with drunk people while you are also drunk. But that's not the point of my story.

It's this: I do not understand people who don't vote in every single election, don't read the newspaper every day, and don't volunteer in their community at least once a year. These things are not hard. And I will fight to the death to make sure people see why and do these things.

A friend of mine told me a while ago that because Obama was the democratic nominee, they were just not going to vote. I didn't respond but now, I wish I had. I wish that I had said, "Don't you see how ridiculous that statement is?? It's ONE race and the things the President decides do not affect your daily life as much as other offices you will vote on this year. You don't have to vote for him, but please, go vote for the other people on the ballot who deserve it!"

I hear this all the time, of course, but it still makes me angry. By not voting at all, you are forsaking the choice you have for people who make decisions on how you live your life. They make decisions on traffic construction that will invariably affect your commute, how much your property tax will be, how much your kids' school teachers get paid, how much your tuition will be raised at that nice college you attend, and even if your garbage will be picked up that week. They legislate things like ensuring my gay friends can have domestic partner benefits, whether or not it's a crime to beat someone up because they're a Muslim, and even where certain people are allowed to go--physically and electronically.

Just voting every 4 years for one person will not make this world a better place. To quote Bobby Kennedy, "Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation."

There are thousands of laws that are made and enforced every day by people who were not elected to be President. Your vote matters more to them than you'll ever know. I know because I've been there when a candidate has lost by a mere 30 votes. I've asked myself what else I could have done and who else I could have persuaded to get out and vote.

I've seen laws get made and know the passionate elected officials who fight for your rights every single day.

You can't tell me that the only election that matters occurs every 4 years. Every election matters no matter which side you're on. The decisions and discourse created on the lowest level--the public level--matter more than you know. By not voting, you are giving up on a piece of liberty that I and millions of others hold dear.

You may not like Barack Obama for whatever reason but if you don't even take a moment and vote for others who deserve it, you're giving in to what he's trying to change. If you don't like Obama, McBush, or anyone else running for President, just skip over it and go right to Congress (or Governor, or legislature or school board-whatever gets you off your ass).

But please, vote. Vote in every race. If you don't know the people running or don't like them, write my name in. I like a little notoriety now and then. Whatever you do, just VOTE.