Relax. This is not an opinion post. I’m not going to spout off about who you should vote for and why. I do not think that I will change your mind about who you’re voting for, and I doubt you will change mine. I think there can be value in honest discussion about this election; but I’d prefer to have those conversations in person. So if you’d honestly like to discuss ideas, let’s grab coffee and I’m all ears.
What I offer is this. I think there are some good rules to go by when navigating this election. So here’s a few thoughts for your consideration.
- No matter who you vote for, please vote. Even if you cannot reconcile either one of the two major candidates, pick a third party. Write in a name. Our right to vote is a privilege, and one we should not take lightly. As Aaron Sorkin wrote in The West Wing, “Decisions are made by those who show up." So show up and speak. If you don’t, then please don’t complain later about the outcome.
- Do your research! A number of political conversations I’ve had so far (in person) boil down to one thing: ignorance. Some people simply don’t know a whole lot about their preferred candidate’s beliefs and platform. If you’re going to make a decision (please do, see #1), then make an informed decision. Do some homework. Read up on the candidates’ history, platforms, and approaches. Don’t take every judgement the media gives you at face value, or what the guy in the Starbucks line is going off about (maybe he didn’t do his research). Show up in November as an informed voter. If you don’t, please don’t plead being a victim and say you were duped later on.
- This is not a one issue election. No election should be. As a member of a society, I believe we have a responsibility. An obligation to vote for the betterment of society as a whole. My vote should not solely be predicated on issues of Supreme Court Justices or taxes. It must be for overarching care of all the people, not simply about my own beliefs or belongings.
- Please do not vote out of a posture of fear. Fear does not get us anywhere as a society. And politics, by-and-large, pray on our sense of fear. In The American President, Sorkin said it best (can you tell I’m a fan?). “He (the politician in the movie) is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character."
If you follow these steps, then it doesn’t matter to me who you vote for (well, it does, but again, face-to-face conversations;). If you are going to engage in election debate this season, just remember that the person shouting at the wind against your candidate likely feels just as passionate as you do. Try to find a way to learn from one another in the discussion and really hear each other. And remember that it is okay to agree to disagree. Our vote is very important, but our lives and relationships do not hinge on this election. At the end of the day, we are all going to need each other, have to exist together and work together.