I know were not supposed to talk politics anymore but I will.

Unless you have been on Mars with the Curiosity Rover you know this is an Election Year in America…and once again we find ourselves in a heated debate about the future of our great country.  No doubt we remain a divided nation on most of the issues that are at the forefront of this election as we see at the close of the Republican and Democratic Conventions.  There are many things troubling me about this election as I talk with my friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers:

People don’t think their vote matters. This is a very sad thing as once again the vocal minority often controls what ends up happening because people stay home on election day.  Every vote matters because every vote is counted.  Are there cases of voter fraud? No doubt…but for the most part your vote is counted and when you look at the past few elections it was very close. I also am in the camp that believes if you dont vote than you cannot complain.

People aren’t happy with Washington/Government as a whole. I get this frustration and agree that while the President is the FACE of government, the fault for the mess we find ourselves rests with many in congress and senate.  This is the beauty of our system vs. the rest of the world: if we aren’t happy with the current people in office we can vote them out! We also have term limits which keep us from having to deal with poor leadership for too long. We elect not just the president but everyone who represents us in the government.

There is a move away from engagement – few want to talk about politics and even fewer have done their homework. In a moment in American histroy where we need more engagement we find people are less and less interested in talking politics.  Don’t allow yourself to go completely on soundbites from CNN or FoxNews…checkout fact-checking sites, do your research on each candidates voting record and background.  An educated voter is hard to argue with.  Will we always agree? Not at all…but you have to respect a person who has done the research before forming their position. Resist the urge to disengage.

People believe all politicians are bad and only have evil motives that are self-serving. Again I get this sentiment with all the negativity surrounding politicians these days…but I think this is poor thinking for it sets every candidate up for failure. We don’t know their motives and can only go on past performance to learn how a given politician will  act (vote) on the issues that matter to us. I try and give people in these positions the benefit of “innocent until proven guilty” because if I was in their place I would hope for the same. Leadership at any level is tough because the people you lead always judge your motives and some judge them wrong.

Many are voting based solely on “likability” factor or popularity. We hated this in high school when that annoying football jock or ditsy cheerleader got some award simply based on their beauty or popularity among the student body. You would think we have matured through the years but sadly many believe it just comes down to the feeling when they hear a speech or see a candidate in a magazine.  I will not deny this is a part of judging a person’s ability to lead, I think we need to remember that looks and personality only get us so far…it’s things like character and integrity that make a difference in the long run.  Do I want a president that can give great speeches? No doubt. But if I had to choose between a good SPEAKER and a good LEADER I would choose the leader every time.

In 61 days the polls open and we get the honor of participating in a  free democracy by casting our vote for the next President of the United States.  Do your homework, watch the debates and talk politics with your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers for this is an important election as each of them are.

(thanks Luke for the pic and inspiration to finally post my thoughts!)

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