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Thursday, October 20, 2016

 10:29 AM 

Wendy Riemann column: Advantageous Advocacy: Just hold your nose and vote!

As a child, I loved going to the voting booth with my dad – back when there were levers to pull for candidates.  When I reached voting age, I practically skipped to the polls to cast my ballot and wore my “I Voted” sticker with pride all day.  This cycle, I am genuinely worried I may be sick on my way to or from my polling place, but I will still vote. 

America spoke.  These are our nominated party candidates.  To not vote is squandering a privilege others long to hold.  To not vote is a vote: a vote in support of everything a person opposes because he did nothing to change the outcome. 

Although many people, myself included, are disheartened by the top of the ticket selections, we must still show up on November 8. 

Votes matter.  We cannot assume anything and should not take anything for granted.  Nothing is certain until the ballots are counted. 

But how to decide when the two front-runners hold the lowest favorability ratings ever in a presidential cycle?  The Washington Post recently researched what voters do when they consider every option bad and found that people tend to vote by rejecting the choices they do not like, instead of affirmatively choosing the one they dislike the least.  Whatever works for the voter mindset …

We are fortunate to live in the United States. Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” 

Our nation is the envy of people across the globe who do not have the right to vote.  Voting is a privilege.  It demonstrates a small attitude of gratitude that says, “I’m grateful to live in such a great country and I am doing my part.”  Reports of low voter turnout are a sad representation of our nation, regardless of how frustrated we feel this cycle.  Yes, government can be slow, and yes, elected officials are human and make mistakes, but voting can bring about change – look at the Tea Party movement or the UK’s Brexit vote for recent examples (for better or worse). 

Sometimes advocating a position means compromise, not extremes, but it does not mean giving up.  Sometimes it means waiting a turn instead of instant gratification, but we still must try to move the ball forward.  And, sometimes voting is not all about us, but the overall greater good. 

Our votes should be cast based on more than who sounds like us, or who we would like to drink a beer with, or our level of anger.  We are electing the leader of the free world.  This is a huge responsibility to our family, friends, and fellow citizens here at home, and to people across the entire globe – especially those who do not hold the right to vote.  Of the candidates, who is best to lead the nation for the next four years?  Represent us on the global stage? 

If we do not like our choices, then let this be a lesson for us.  And let us hope that Washington officials also learn a lesson and become more action-orientated. 

Perhaps in future elections we all could pay more attention to substance over soundbites.  We may live in a 24-hour news cycle world, but maybe instead of saying he or she holds my attention, or speaks the best, maybe it is time to start examining plans, policies, and records of achievement.  Maybe we should be listening more to what a candidate is truly saying – regardless of the candidate’s level of energy when saying it, appearance, or how well the candidate works the media.

With all that said, let us not lose hope.  Our great nation has had good and not-so-good presidents in the past, and we have endured and prospered because of, and sometimes even in spite of, that president.  Our nation is bigger and stronger than any one individual. 

Additionally, the Founding Fathers were wise in establishing a system that leaves much of the critical decision making to states and local governments.  Leaders for positions at the state, county, and local governments are on ballots across the country, and are worth our consideration, as well as a trip to the polling place.  These elected officials are far more likely to impact our daily lives than the president, so please research them and cast the ballot accordingly. 

Yes, I dread voting for a presidential candidate this election.  However, at the end of the day, I am grateful to live in an amazing country where I have the right to vote, and I am appreciative of all the candidates who are willing to run for office and serve in a (often) thankless job.  

-- Riemann is president of 1492 Communications, a consulting firm. Like 1492 Communications on Facebook to learn more.


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