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October 09, 2008

I Believe Your Vote Matters

Amiee On our recent trip to Ohio I felt compelled to volunteer at the local Obama headquarters for a few hours. Sure, it gave me a break from my in-laws, but more importantly, it helped me—coming from a solidly Blue state—feel like I was making a difference. At my husband's high school reunion later that evening (the reason for our visit) I was pretty disheartened to meet several people who weren't planning to vote. I would give anything to be able to cast my vote in Ohio—where Kerry lost by just a few votes per precinct—instead of Maryland where every Democrat will win handedly.

It was very difficult for me to continue chatting with those old high school buddies who weren't going to vote. I honestly was astounded by their attitude--that their vote didn't matter, that they didn't have time to learn about the candidates. Excuses! Excuses!

If I could have gotten my act together that night, this is what I would have told them:

I truly believe in the American political process.

I believe that it is not only our right but our moral obligation to be involved. At a very minimum this is an obligation to vote. And not just every four years or for the “big” ones like this year, but for every school board race and mayoral primary as well as for representation in the state legislature and at the federal level.

But, voting is just the minimum.

I believe that citizens of the United States of America have an obligation to educate ourselves, to pay attention to what is happening with our government, to voice our opinions to our elected officials. And, yes, even to campaign for those we believe in.

Who are these people that represent us? Are they all egomaniacs? Are they all crooks? Are they all only looking out for themselves? No, no they are not.

I believe that the very large majority of elected officials in our country are good, hardworking men and women who ran for office in order to serve: to serve their communities, to serve their neighbors. I believe that they work hard for us.

I believe that even the people with whom I vehemently disagree, that even those people, believe they are doing what is best for the American people.

And I know for a fact that the decisions they make, the votes they cast, affect each and every one of our lives and our children's lives each and every day. Not just the big things like war and taxes and health care, but the little things—funding for the neighborhood school, regulating dangerous chemicals in baby bottles, new playground equipment at the local park. These are just some of the things decided upon by our elected representatives and paid for with our tax dollars.

I know that as moms, especially as moms, we are all busy. But that is even more reason why voting is so important. None of us have the time or, quite frankly, the inclination to stay on top of every vote cast in Congress, to attend every local School Board or Town Council meeting. Because we can’t or won’t, it is even more important that we cast an educated vote, that we take our suffrage very seriously.

So please register to vote, read up on the issues. But don’t stop at Obama v. McCain, learn about all the candidates on your ballot--there will be many more names there than Obama and McCain. Your vote matters. Then, after November 4, stay engaged and speak out on issues that are important to you. Our democracy depends on it.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. When Aimee isn't politicking she writes at Smiling Mama.

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