Over summer I was playing Heads Up with my parents, brothers, uncle, and young cousins. It’s an iPhone game that works by choosing a theme within the app and then placing your phone on your forehead so the people playing with you can see it. They give you hints and you try to guess as many of the answers as you can in the time limit. My cousin Anthony, a 7 year old with the biggest brown eyes you’ve ever seen in your life, was doing the “Animals” theme.
He was struggling with it, not sure who to listen to as we all jumped around waving our elephant trunks and swinging our arms as though from trees around the room. The answer “blue whale” pops up on the screen. We’re all trying to give hints, yelling, pretending to swim, talking over each other and then over us all my mom tells him, “It’s not red, not white, but….” to which Anthony yelled out “DINOSAUR!”
We gave it to him anyway.
I tell you that story to make you smile as I bring up this point. It seems a lot of people aren’t really sure of the old red, white, and blue. I say this because of the cynicism I see in my Facebook feed and in conversations I eavesdrop on in coffee shops. Everybody claims to have a problem with something happening in the government but statistically we are not all using our right to vote to facilitate the changes we claim we want to see.
It’s hard to get out of your own head. It’s not easy to justify taking time out of your schedule when it’s already incredibly busy and you can’t really see any tangible difference resulting from your voice. But voting patterns and election results are a vicious cycle. We don’t see the change we want because we don’t vote, people who don’t really represent our beliefs wind up make decisions for us, we find ourselves disenfranchised with the whole process, and then when it’s time for another election we DON’T VOTE because it didn’t seem to make a difference last time. It’s hard. I know. I wrestle with these feelings too.
I’m not going to tell you to vote. That’s a personal decision and belongs to you and you alone. I am going to tell you that I will be voting and I’m going to ask you to please spend at least a few minutes researching the candidates and the causes before you make a decision. Relying on party lines to navigate your vote is a cop out. It perpetuates a dichotomy. It pits us against them instead of allowing for unity. It is the enemy of progress and collaboration.
There are a lot of resources available, especially in local newspapers and magazines that cover local elections. In Orlando, I’ve found Orlando Weekly‘s spread to be most useful.* I encourage you to spend a few minutes tonight thinking about the issues you identify with most and want to see change. Find the candidates who support those causes and have plans to work on them. Those are the people who can make a difference and the only way they get that chance is if you give it to them.
Most people see the world as it relates to them, why not do all you can to elect a candidate you actually support? They’re the only ones who will help shape the government into one you want to be apart of.
*I disagree with their stand on Amendment 1. I am all for Water and Land Conservation but the way that the amendment is able to provide funds without raising taxes is by stealing it from the fund dedicated to support low income housing, a fund that has been abused and used as a piggy bank for various politicians for almost 20 years. I think the original fund needs to be protected and once 100% of it is actually being used for it’s original intent, then the option to share the money with other deserving projects, like conservation should be introduced.