Why vote?

The opportunity to vote was something that I looked forward to for my eighteenth birthday. There has never been a Presidential election I have missed and few midterm and local elections that I have missed in the three decades since. Yet, with each election, I find myself wondering if my vote truly matters. I was the idealistic teenager who believed with all her heart, her vote made a difference and if more people voted, we could change the world.
For all the votes I have cast, it seems our country is in a more dire place than I can ever remember. We have essentially given the rest of the world and our planet the middle finger in the name of gain, profit, and power.
In striving for a desire for something (anything) different, we handed over the reigns to a bully who cater to a powerful few who do not have the majorities best interest at heart. Both Republicans and Democrats have shaped the systems that now shape us. Both parties are guilty of overlooking our greatest issues. Both make promises they cannot keep and staunchly fight the other at all cost.
Our education system is outdated and underfunded, not preparing youth to be self-sustainable, healthy, adults who contribute to their communities. Founded on a definition of success based on material possessions, bank accounts, and how many likes they get on their posts. We value celebrities and athletes more than teachers.
We want milk, but we don’t want to pay for it and we don’t care if dairy farmers start killing themselves because they can no longer make a living. We want healthy food but we don’t want to tend to the land so we are okay with however that has to happen. We want meat but we don’t want to know how the animals are raised. When our President pulls out of environmental treaties, nuclear arms treaties, reverses decisions that were made to help future generations, people shrug and say, “What can you do?”
As I look at who is running for office to represent me, all I see are representatives that are aligned with those old systems that clearly aren’t working. We need people who are willing to make new systems. Unfortunately, these people have no desire to run for office. They know better. Serving in office is, at best a thankless job and, at worst, a nightmare.You clearly can get more done and have a greater impact out of public office.
This leaves us in a quandary. If change is going to happen, it will have to start with each individual taking responsibility and accountability for their actions. Maybe we all need to return to kindergarten to reacquaint ourselves with the rules:
  • Play fair and share.
  • If you hurt someone, apologize and try to learn a lesson so you don’t do it again.
  • Clean up after yourself- take accountability for your messes
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours. (This includes other countries resources!)
  • Live a balanced life: math, science and reading are equally important as physical activity, art, choir, and play.
  • When doing something dangerous, such as crossing the street or going out in the world (field trips), look both ways, be aware of your surroundings, and look out for each other by holding hands. We’re better together than alone most of the time.
  • Use your imagination and be a problem solver instead of a problem maker.
  • Resolve fights without using your fists and make-up to become friends afterwards.
  • Eat three balanced meals a day and a snack
  • Teamwork gets the job done so much faster
  • Help out those who can’t help themselves
  • Be kind. Always be kind.
  • Read more books.
  • Play hard and rest when you need to.
These rules, so simple and yet so effectively when acted upon will start the shape the systems that shape us. When more individuals begin to take responsibility and accountability for their actions, we undoubtably put pressure on others to do the same. Certainly it is not an overnight process or something you can do once and be done with. This is a long term commitment to living with integrity, not only for our benefits but the the (hopefully) many generations to follow.