In every four-year election cycle, people tend to get wrapped up in the presidential election to the exclusion of all else. And if you want to hear more about the informed votes of some of those voters, check out this Howard Stern audio (potentially not safe for work – you’ve been warned):
- Obama is pro-life.
- Obama chose Paul Ryan as his running mate.
- Osama bin Laden is alive and well, and that we shouldn’t kill him for moral reasons, but torturing him would be fine.
- Obama is a Mormon, and that negatively affects how people view him.
- Mitt Romney is black.
- Sarah Palin is a vice-presidential candidate again this year.
- John McCain will not win this year’s election but it will be close.
The presidential election is important, don’t get me wrong. But tonight, Nick and I sat in on a one hour town hall conference call with our representative, Lamar Smith. I won’t bother to try and recap the whole thing (which we sat through every minute of, thankyewverymuch) because in general it was too discouraging for the words I would need to summon to describe it. There was one moment that stood out to me, though, one moment where Nick and I just looked at each other and shook our heads.
One town hall participant wanted to know what the consequence was to Congress – to the Senate, in particular – for not passing a budget for the last three years in flagrant violation of a 1974 law that requires them – legally requires them – to pass a budget every year. (It’s called the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, and you can read more about it here.) And our representative said that he’d had attorneys look into it, and the answer was… nothing. Neither the House of Representatives nor the people of the United States have standing under the law to hold Congress accountable. Our only recourse is to change our representatives, to elect senators who will do the job we elect them to do.
Our jaws dropped.
No legal recourse.
So while people are bent out of shape and vocal and have tweeted incessantly about the “travesty” of a call in a recent NFL game, those same people are OBLIVIOUS about the issues facing them in this election. It makes me a little afraid, that people will cast their votes this year believing that Obama is a Mormon and pro-life, that Mitt Romney is black, and that Sarah Palin is a vice-presidential candidate.
Do you know who represents you in the House of Representatives? If not, go here and find out. Do you know what that person believes, and what they have pledged to do while they are supposedly serving your interests? If not, shame on you. (And if you don’t know the function of the House of Representatives, go here. And… dear God.)
Do you know who your state senators are? If not, go here… and again, dear God.
Now take all those names, and set aside two evenings between now and November 6th (that would be Election Day this year, in case you didn’t know) to do a little research. (It can be any two evenings – I don’t care. You have whole house DVR or some such and I promise you won’t miss anything… important. You know, like Survivor. Or whatever.) Take those evenings to do a little reading; research the voting record of the people who represent you. Do they represent what you believe? Do they really speak for you up there in Washington where decisions are being made that affect us every day?
If they do, great. We can’t ever be friends (kidding… sort of), but …. good. At least you’re moderately informed.
If they don’t…. what are you going to do about it? Do you even know what you believe? Have a conversation with the important people in your life about what these choices might mean to you – and I don’t mean the talking points regurgitated by Fox News or the Huffington Post or CNN. Really. Talk about what these things mean to you with people who matter to you. Do it over dinner. Make it an event.
Because there are people in the world literally DYING for the privilege of living in a society where they can have a voice, while we who pioneered the principle (oh, don’t give me that whole Greek thing – shut up!) are too lazy to make the effort. What we get for our sloth and indifference is a French government that is completely prepared to ban the words “mother” and “father” in the pursuit of “gender equality.” What we get is a rapist who has every possible chance of getting legal visitation rights for the child fathered during his assault of a teenage victim. What we get is a mom arrested for inadequate supervision of her kids playing on their scooters in front of their house while she watched from a lawn chair in the driveway. What we get is a government that thinks a movie insulting Mohammed is an abomination while a crucifix submerged in urine is government-funded art. If we don’t exercise the privilege, what we’re saying is that NFL football, or Dancing with the Stars, or whatever else sucks up our time is more important that knowing what we stand for when we step into the voting booth and pull that lever.
I’m not telling you how to vote. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a social and fiscal conservative – my vote is for Romney, because I think Obama is a dangerous, naive idealogue – but it’s not my place to tell you what to think or believe. If you’re voting the other way, do you know why? No, really – have you done the research? Do you have the facts instead of the propaganda? The obligation and the reward of freedom is that we get to decide these things for ourselves. So I am begging you – literally – to take some of the time between now and November 6th to (1) know why you’re voting the way you are, and (2) show up and vote.
Show up. Please.
Because if you nullify my vote thinking that Romney is black, Obama is Mormon, or Obama is pro-life… I’ll keel you (not safe for work – language warning). (“Listing all the possible causes is only impressive if you can do it reverse alphabetically.” – House)