Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Military & civilians alike must take voting seriously

We are just over a month away from mid-term elections, and contrary to what some believe, some of us in the military pay more attention to politics than many civilians. The reason is pretty simple – just about every aspect of our lives is directly impacted by our elected representatives’ decisions since they control our pay and dictate the policies which affect our overall quality of life.

At my last duty station (New Orleans), I was saddened to hear my young Marines talk with such ignorance about the electoral process and the 2008 presidential and congressional candidates. After cursing their lack of civics education, I encouraged them to research each candidate and talk about their merits and shortcomings. (Don’t take that to mean I cursed THEM; I think we can all agree it’s not their fault they were shorted what should be an important part of high school education.)

I will admit I found it difficult, at first, to encourage their growth without introducing any of my own beliefs, but in the end, they realized I just wanted them to not only vote but, more importantly, to vote intelligently. As long as they did that, I didn’t care for whom they actually cast their vote.

That’s the message I’d like to stress here – voting is our civic responsibility, and we MUST exercise it intelligently. Blindly voting for someone – regardless of their or your party affiliation – is inexcusable in this day and age of instant information access. Within a matter of minutes, you can use the Internet to pull up candidates’ voting records, official viewpoints, videos, and speeches as well as news articles from various media outlets. And while that research doesn’t guarantee the “perfect” decision, you can at least rest assured you made an informed decision.

Our representative republic form of government is not perfect, but it truly is the closest to perfect in the world.

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