Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Think. Vote. Please.

by Judy Merrill Larsen

Earlier this summer, a picture on the front page of The New York Times stunned me. And it haunts me still. It was of a little boy, a toddler, with both of his ankles in casts. He was from one of the African nations struggling to have fair elections in the midst of war. Men had come in, and when his mother refused to say where his father was and how they had voted, they shattered the little boy's ankles.

Think about that for a minute if you can. Think of the terror and horror his mother endured. The pain of the little boy. These were people who faced brutality and possible death just for trying to vote.

We have an election on the horizon and while there has been lots and lots (and lots!) of words said and written about it, there are people who won't vote because they are too busy or they just plumb forget or they don't care. There are also people who will vote without being informed. They'll vote one way because of hair style or skin color or internet rumors that are e-mailed and forwarded by idiots (sorry, Dad.).

And I want those people to think of that little boy and his mother.

I'm voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. There, I said it. For all to see. And with no fear of harm coming to my family or me.

I believe that Obama is our best chance for change and hope and a positive direction for our country. I believe that Obama as president can help America regain her stature and good standing in the world. I like that he's smart. I want a president who's smarter than I am. I firmly believe that he wants the same things for his family and their future that I want for mine. I trust him with my economic future. I agree with him on most social issues. I wish he were more adamant about gun control, but I can't have everything. I support what he proposes for health care.

Do I know every last detail on all his positions? No. But I have listened and read enough to trust him and his vision for America.

This past weekend, I walked through a few neighborhoods in my town, canvassing for Obama. I chatted with neighbors who are undecided, who have decided for the other side, and who agree with me (and asked for yard signs). Everyone was friendly (okay, one woman was a bit crotchety) and what struck me was the thoughtfulness of those I talked to. One woman in particular said she was really struggling; she likes Obama, but she's pro-life. She couldn't decide what to do. And while I wished I could sway her, I know she has to decide. But she's thinking about it which is the most important.

I wish I could go door-to-door in more neighborhoods, more states. I wish we could talk to and with rather than at.

This election is too important to hand over to the talking heads on Fox News and MSNBC and CNN.

Think of that mother in Africa and her little boy.

And please vote.


Lisa said...

I am so glad you've posted this. My biggest fear for this election is that too many people will decide how to cast their votes based on sound bites from the news or campaign ads. The only way a democracy works is if the voters are informed. We are so lucky to live in an age where information on where the candidates stand is available instantly. Please, please verify negative things you hear at, please go to each candidate's website and review where he stands on the issues that are important to you. Please watch their speeches on YouTube. The only thing worse than sitting this one out, is voting based on false assumptions. Vote what you believe, but vote based on facts.

I support Barack Obama because I believe he is a sincere candidate who can truly unite the country. I believe he has a 21st century view and approach to foreign affairs. I believe, as he does that America needs to fix our broken health care system, fix our educational system so that we are once again competitive in science and technology, that we need to aggressively pursue alternative forms of energy. I believe he is a brilliant individual and that he has surrounded himself with the best and the brightest and that his judgment during this campaign reflects the judgment he'll use in appointing a cabinet if we elect him as our next President.

Single issue voters will have a problem with his position on preserving a woman's right to choose and I respect those beliefs. But if you are a single issue voter, please consider our obligation to the health and education of the millions of children who are now suffering and neglected due to lack of medical insurance and substandard education.

Please be informed.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Judy. Thank you.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lisa, thanks for your comment, thoughtful (and right!) as always!

Hey Kristen, thanks for stopping by . . . and you led the way with your wonderful post a week or so ago.

Daisy said...

If you really want to go door to door, call the local Democratic office and offer to canvas with them. They'll send you out with a partner or a group to talk to people, remind them to vote, and help inform them so they make good choices.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hey Daisy, don't worry, I didn't just wander around ringing doorbells . . . I was part of an organized effort with the local Obama office.

Barb McKone said...

Way to go, Judy!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Thanks, Barb!

debra said...

This is such an important conversation. My 16 yr old daughter and I were talking about how people died for the right to vote, and how we can make a difference. The VP debate will start in a few minutes. More food for thought.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Debra, I know, we forget, sometimes, it seems, that voting is a privilege and responsibility!