The Right to Vote (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 7)

It’s Election Day! Do more than be grateful for the right to vote — exercise that right!

If you don’t know where to vote or how to vote, the website Vote411.org has resources to help you get your vote in before the polls close.

The American flag ~ the "Stars and Stripes"

Why vote?

Your Vote Matters
Your vote is your way of being represented in government. That means that when you vote you are making your needs and values known to the leaders of your country, state, and city. Your vote is your voice. If you do not use your vote, no one will hear you.

Being able to vote means having the right to choose. You are choosing who will make decisions that will affect your life. But when you do not vote, you are still making a choice. You are choosing to not take part in democracy. You are choosing to give up your most important right and responsibility as a citizen. You are choosing to be silent while other people make decisions for you.

Don’t give up your right to choose. Vote!

In an election, every vote counts. Your vote matters. If you do not think that your vote makes a difference, take a look at some events in history that were decided by just a few votes.

Some events in history that were decided by just a few votes.

  • In 1776, the American colonists had come from many different countries and were deciding what the new country’s official language would be. Just one vote decided that Americans would speak English rather than German.
  • In 1850, the young U.S. government was deciding whether or not it wanted to grow to the West. Just one vote made California a part of the United States.
  • In 1868 Congress was deciding whether it should remove President Andrew Johnson from office. Just one vote kept President Johnson from being removed.
  • In 1960 there was a very close presidential election. Just three votes per precinct made John F. Kennedy president instead of Richard Nixon.
    Source: How to Vote! California Edition, Key to Community Voter Involvement Project.*

Excerpt from the Ohio Literacy Project, “What Does It Mean to be a Citizen in a Democracy?” 

So …. Will you/did you vote today?!

~ Kat

Kat’s W.R.G.*: Civility and Compassion

* Weekly Reflection of Gratitude!

While I still encourage you to join in the challenge I issued earlier, to post your “30 Days of Blessings, Condensed” this month, the day after the election is a good day to reflect.  Our nation remains deeply divided – this is not something new to the past four years, although the venomous tone has increased dramatically during that time. While I am grateful for our freedom of speech, let that speech be tempered with compassion and civility.

President John Kennedy made this statement during his inaugural address in the context of world relations, but it applies equally to relations within our borders:

“So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, from his 1961 Inaugural Address (full text of that address can be found here)

columbine sunshine 5_31_10

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ciao! ~ Kat

Kat’s Weekly Reflection of Gratitude: The Privilege of Voting

One of the only blessings coming from Hurricane Sandy is a brief respite from the usual tenor of political campaigns at this juncture, with the election for President of the United States now only a few days away.  Other important offices, at the federal, state and local levels, are up for grabs in this election, as well.  In many states, important constitutional amendment questions are posed to the electorate, in some cases asking the populace to forever determine constitutional rights of others in our society.

Whatever your political affiliation — whether you swing left or right, red or blue, or like many, somewhere in the middle — spend the next few days educating yourself on the candidates and the issues that are going to present themselves on your ballot.  Really educate yourselves . . . I am not talking about reviewing the latest Facebook updates, tweets on Twitter or, as entertaining as it is, relying on the Daily Show as your sole source of political discernment.

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd U.S. President)

Our sound bite society needs to spend some real time reviewing reliable, fact-based analysis of the critical issues facing our nation and communities as we decide for whom and for what we should vote.  (FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center is one source for bipartisan fact-checking on a variety of ads, issues, and often what are urban legends.)

The Lincoln Memorial ~ Washington, D.C.
The Lincoln Memorial ~ Washington, D.C.

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” ~ Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President)

Voting is a privilege that we should hold sacred.  Our vote is our voice in an election, no matter how quiet or small we may feel at times.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ~ Alice Walker

Crop Art from the 2012 Minnesota State Fair
Crop Art from the 2012 Minnesota State Fair

Every vote counts.  Every vote matters.  If you have not participated in early voting, exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, November 6th.

“Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good: ‘Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ciao! ~ Kat