Monday, November 5, 2012

Finding the Joy in Voting

There is something to be said about the ability of a nation being able to freely choose its leaders. Tomorrow, millions of Americans will go to the polls and make their choice. Depending on who you support, the resulting choice of the nation could be good or bad but it will be our choice.

Americans do not have a monopoly on free elections.

We didn't even invent them.

We should take joy in the fact that we have them though.

It can be easy when you've lived here for your whole life or if you've seen how Americans can be seen from the outside to minimize the privileges and rights that we have. I understand that. The constant political ads alone would be enough to make a person cynical. It doesn't help that it often gets couched in language like "duty" or "responsibility" instead of "privilege" or "blessing."

We can look to those who have not had these privileges for nearly as long to see the joy connected to this freedom...

I still remember watching the excitement of the people of Iraq finally able to make their voice heard. No longer would a dictator use their country as his personal labor force. No longer would a dictator use bioweapons on his own people. These were their leaders. This was their choice.

(Maybe it'd help if we used ink rather than those stickers when we vote.)

It's somewhat discouraged by many to do so but I have no problem in sharing who I voted for (I voted absentee) because hopefully we, as Americans, can agree or disagree peacefully and respectfully.

I voted for the same man that I voted for in the primary election because I believe that he has the experience and leadership skills to help turn the American economy around, Mitt Romney.

There's probably a few of you who are tempted to stop reading right now. I share my choice for a specific reason, not because I expect this blog post to convince you to vote a certain way but because caring enough about your choice to let other people know about it is part of finding joy in voting.

Over the past few months, a group of supporters of President Obama have been coming to Panera Bread on Monday nights. They each have a list of mostly older folks in Iowa and spend a few hours calling them, telling them how they can vote absentee or early. They also ask them to consider supporting the President. I've worked almost every Monday night since I've started at Panera so I've gotten to know quite a few of these people. I'm always surprised at the friendliness, genuineness and ability to keep calling even after getting hung up on multiple times. I've often said that if their candidate wasn't so far away from my values on a few key issues, they might have persuaded me to switch my vote.

The thing that makes me the most excited about this group of people is that they not only have the ability to freely choose who they want to be our leader, they are engaged enough to try and convince others to do the same. As annoying as some of the debate on Facebook could be, people were really just displaying that same passion for their candidate. I can't blame them for passion (even if they could use tact.)

Don't get me wrong. Elections have consequences. A few Supreme Court seats will hang on Tuesday's result. The steps taken to lead America to a stronger economy would be very different between the candidates. The choice is yours.

At the end of Tuesday night, however, one of our candidates will have been chosen...

By US.

And regardless of the results, we should come together as Americans to celebrate the blessing of being able to make that choice.

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