Since moving to DC - the undisputed epicenter of U.S. politics - I would be remiss if I didn't send a follow-up to my 2008 election-season email, which if you remember, was a simple effort to encourage the recipients to go out and vote, and not particularly one way or another, but just to exercise their right to vote.
I did that for a variety of reasons, but mostly, I sent that email because for six years prior to sending it, I defended (and now, so does my sister Erin) our right to vote. I am fairly certain none of you need(ed) convincing from me, but I would be ashamed to know that you did not exercise that right in 2008, so please don't let me down next Tuesday.
For my follow up this year (and what an incredible year it has been!), I'd like to preface it by first stating that I sincerely understand and truly support the difference in opinions going into this upcoming election. Sure, that probably sounds all fine and dandy, but let me explain why..
In the last four years, I've talked with so many of you about politics--local, state, federal and international--and what I've found to be most common during the election season is that people can't understand why someone would vote as a conservative (for Romney) or as a liberal (for Obama) if there isn't a resounding reason for doing so.
Now I'll admit, I'm a registered Independent, which basically means I vote issue by issue, candidate by candidate, and I don't proscribe to party politics. If I was registered to vote in a state, however, I'd give up my right to vote in the primaries, but in DC, we don't vote in primary elections, so registering as an Independent is safe (and smart). Otherwise, I would truly be giving up some of the benefits of voting, which I will never do.
Your voice is true power, and in U.S. politics, your vote--at the minimum--is your voice.
Anyway, getting back to my original point. The single greatest reason why so many people agree to disagree during the general election season is because they can't seem to figure out why people would vote for their candidate. Why? It is because people just don't want to take time to listen to the reasons why someone would vote for the opposition. That is basically it, and that, to me, is the sign of an ignorant voter.
As I stated above, "I sincerely understand and truly support the difference in opinions going into this upcoming election." Well, I still do, but what I didn't say was that comes with a caveat because I can only "sincerely understand and truly support the difference in opinions" when you express them.
Personally, I wouldn't want to vote knowing I hadn't heard from those closest to me about how they will vote. Granted, I don't need to be convinced to vote, duh. But, I would be delighted to learn more about why you think your candidate would make the better president.
Call me undecided. Call me easily persuaded. I tell you what I call it: Being open until calling it actually counts: Election Day 2012.
That's the day you make the decision. Up until that point, be an open book! And like they say, don't judge a book by its cover, so be willing to hear arguments. Be willing to listen to complaints. Make the candidates work for your vote because once they get it, it's a whole different story.
Your vote puts them where they need to be to carry through on their promises (or not), so make sure you get all the information before you cast your coveted vote.
Most importantly, be willing to listen to reason.
To that point, I recently came across an interesting source for why people will be voting for Obama. Take it with a grain of salt (salt takers, see #43 and #61), but I think you'll each find someone you relate to from the 80+ people listed on the website, "90 Days, 90 Reasons," which can be found here:
Without going into detail about the site (it really is self-explanatory), I will say that more than 80 people have publicly stated on this website their reason for voting for Obama.
The simple thought of this website will be something many of you overlook, cast aside or just plain scoff at, but I urge each of you to take a moment to peruse the names and find someone you recognize, respect and/or relate to, read their reason and then draw your own conclusion. By doing that, you've at least acknowledged my ask for 2012: Don't just vote, educate yourself on the issues, the candidates and why people you love, respect and admire vote the way they do. Then vote.
Get educated, get registered and go vote. In that order. Please.
P.S. For all you Obama supporters, I suggest using a friendly and fun website as your ammo in the days to come. It can be found here.