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We’re in this together, kids OR How to vote like a grown up

2008 August 5

     In Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, he talks about the divide between Republicans and Democrats that has left us thinking that we are one or the other, that there’s no middle ground. The battle is good v. evil. Perhaps this is why the climate of this presidential campaign is so harsh.  I’ve noticed recently that people are so reluctant to talk about their own politics, that party division has become so harsh that it’s completely taboo to even bring up who you’re considering as a candidate because of the potential repercussions – at the least social discomfort, at the most major rifts between friends and family.  It seems many people consider it as off limits as asking an acquaintance how much money they make or how big their raise was.   

 I think the problem that led us to this circumstance is the same problem that leads to imprudent voting and frightening zealotry. Here is what I think is a simple solution to keep in mind when you’re considering candidates: vote for who you think will do important things for this country and all of its people, not what is best for you personally.  We all have religious beliefs, but they aren’t everyone’s. We all have money we work hard for, and we’d all like to keep as much of it as possible.  We all want to make our lives as comfortable as possible. But if we don’t consider the rest of the country, what kind of country are we? 

 I admire people who have strong religious convictions, but I also admire those people who realize that not everyone must agree with their ideas, especially here in America.

I met a man recently, he told me he was Muslim, who talked about how the greatest thing someone could do was to help another person regardless of what faith they practiced.  This guy, whose name means “truth,” seemed to get it; here, we don’t have to be the same. It’s kind of the point. Isn’t our country built on the idea that faith won’t influence our government’s decisions? I worry when people feel obligated to take their personal religion into account when voting. Of course you can hold your beliefs; it’s America, after all. But should we restrict our laws so that they reflect only one religion? The same is true of taxes. If we vote based on our personal gain, what happens to programs that help people who didn’t have the same fortune we did? 

     All I’m asking is for each person who votes to consider this: Are you voting for yourself, or the common goals of this country? If you believe in the point of this place, you know that you’ll be able to follow your religion, earn money, find success, pursue happiness, drink Starbucks, shop at or boycott Wal-Mart. I think if we choose the candidate – regardless of party – who isn’t just the best candidate for one type of person we make a responsible choice.  Maybe it’ll shrink the divide a little bit, and we’ll vote for the best candidate instead of leaning left or right.  I think it’s what we have to do. 

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