31 October 2008

Voting Beats Violence

Next Tuesday, 4 November 2008, is election day in the US of A and that is great news! It means that we are still holding free and peaceful elections after more than two hundred years. It is no longer the largest voting event in the world (In 2004 380 million people voted in India) but it holds second place and it is still one of the oldest in modern times. The process allows for universal suffrage, is managed by thousands of volunteers and includes a secret ballot which eliminates intimidation. It is truly a “we the people” event. It isn’t without problems but that means it is healthy.

Before we had elections we had violence. In the past the strongest, most dominant individual with the greatest number of strategically placed armies wrested control of the state by force and were free to do as they pleased until the next great power came along and took over. It was a very bloody process but the upside was a great fiscal outcome, you didn’t have near as many people to govern (or feed) when it was over. The downside? There was never a peaceful end. Leaders were constantly watching their back and usually died an early and violent death. The balance between peace and conflict could not be maintained.

To avoid these pitfalls civilizations began dabbling with other options one of which stuck, voting. It is the modern replacement for bloodshed. Although you still have the odd punch up at the polling stations and there is a lot of heated incrimination between the candidates and their supporters before and after the vote it is still the foundation of a peaceful democracy.

Casting a vote is what I do instead of firing a bullet. Casting only one vote is a way of respecting the rights and opinions of my neighbors. Casting a vote consistently is the least we can do to be good citizens. Casting a vote is the best way to say thanks to everyone who paved the way to peace. Casting a vote is one way to be a good example to the rest of humanity and the idea is catching on.

All of that is to say this. Don’t be discouraged by the bad mouthing, name calling and exaggerated accusations from the candidates and those who support them. Do your own research and don’t believe everything you hear. Obama isn’t second cousin to ben Ladin and McCain doesn’t have a harem on the side. “Freedom of speech” must be complimented by “freedom of thought.” We must learn to separate emotion from substance.

Keep in mind these things. The process is sound even with the problems. Every election is managed by humans and will have its flaws. Mess ups are not always equal to corruption.

The candidates are different more by ability than philosophy, this year any way. When you take away all the rhetoric they are much closer than many would like you to think and having two sides is great. Popular agreements are reached when two opposing sides debate, discuss and argue until they find the acceptable middle ground.

Whoever wins the election will be the president of every person in the country. Elected officials will be serving every person in both parties and will need the prayers of everyone who still believes God is in control. Partisan mentalities must give way to good governance and “we the people” must make it clear that we expect that to happen. But, all of this starts with your vote. Don’t miss it!

I have already cast my vote by absentee ballot. Whom I voted for is none of your business. The person you vote for is none of mine. Not voting, however, is an insult.

For those not eligible to vote in the coming US elections I have included a poll for you to have your say (right side column). It won’t change the outcome of the election but it is nice to express your opinion so take your pick. But, in whatever country you live do your civic duty and register to vote. One vote at a time we can all have influence. We might not change what is but we can slow down the process to becoming what should not be. ThinkAboutIt


Anonymous said...

Excellent blog! If we could only get everyone to realize how important their vote is. So many people don't vote and they are usually the first ones ready to complain when things don't go as they expect. I appreciate the fact that this was not a name calling mud-slinging blog. It gave very intelligient reasons for voting. Kudos to you!

shaun said...

Keep 'em coming.

libhom said...

After the thefts of the last two presidential elections, people have every right to ask questions about the process.

EnnisP said...

Hey libhom,
There is no argument that the system has its flaws and I would even agree there are people who would intentionally manipulate the the outcome but neither side has the corner on cheating and the people who do this are relatively few. Most volunteers are honest and sincere. And the system is very sound.

A tight race may just mean that neither candidate has enough influence to draw the votes.