We need to understand the importance of voting
BY BRET BALDWIN
Oct. 7, 2012 at 5:07 a.m.
On an early morning this past May, I was honored to personally witness how much this great nation meant to one individual as he left his polling place with his walker. He was an elderly gentleman who was being helped by a woman who was holding the gentleman by a belted safety strap as he walked with the assistance of a walker. I wish more people valued voting as much as this gentleman. His strength had left him long ago, but not the strength of his convictions. He was determined to vote, no matter how hard the physical struggle. We need more of that kind of honor and dedication in this nation so we can reach the bright promise of the future.
I have traveled the world and personally experienced countries where there is no freedom to vote and people go without such a right. In those countries, one must simply accept what the politburos have concluded. I thank God for letting me see how important voting was for one man. We should be grateful that this nation has the freedom to vote and remember those that gave their lives for such freedoms. Do not take this right of voting, the ability to have your voice heard and counted, for granted.
This year's election is a pivotal one in our nation's history whereby we will make key decisions about the future path of this country and what it means to be a citizen, whether we will move toward a path of smaller government or follow the paths taken by our European cousins.
Even though other nations have elections, the honor of allowing every common man and woman to choose their leaders of the nation is a modern institution created and perfected in this country. It is an American tradition adopted all over the world by nations grateful to follow the example we have set. We've had this right longer than most other countries on the planet. We created the institution, and in our nation it is an old tradition.
Sadly, this familiarity and history has led to apathy among many voters. Too many of us don't value our right to cast a ballot and choose the face of nations. Even worse than not voting, many of us have taken to voting flippantly. When we do show up to vote, we vote based upon simple party lines, name recognition and sometimes even for random candidates.
With great freedom comes great responsibility. Part of exercising our right to vote is taking the time and effort to learn about all the candidates and making an informed decision with our liberties. Researching candidates is as much a part of our civil duty as casting a ballot. I understand that it can be an overwhelming task to research every candidate on every issue for which they stand. That is why it is crucial to identify the races that have the greatest impact on your life and research the candidate as much as you can to make an informed decision.
Too often, we keep bad leaders in office out of force of habit and laziness. We simply vote for the name we know without researching other options that may have the experience and wisdom needed to bring about real, positive change.
If you want to make a positive contribution to America, if you want to honor our great tradition of liberty, take the time and effort to make your vote an educated decision that you honestly think will benefit the republic and your fellow citizens. By doing so, we honor those who have gone before us to create this right and pass it on to future generations.
Remember the image of people in Iraq holding up dyed thumbs in defiance of death threats to show how proud they were to be the first in generations to vote. They didn't have to just worry about doing a little research on the Internet, they had to worry about not getting shot or worse; and still they came, excited about this new gift of democracy.
So I urge you all, take the time to research candidates beyond just party affiliations. Find out about their experiences, what they stand for and what they will do if you give them your precious vote. Then take the time to go out and cast a ballot. Respect this most American freedom and make your voice heard.
Bret Baldwin is the Independent candidate for the 27th U.S. Congressional District. Voters may email him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.