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Alyson Renaldo Headshot

America's Got Talent

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It is the morning after, so to speak. The 2010 midterm election race is finished. An estimated 85.2 million Americans went to the polls and voted. Some went excited because their ideals of governance and that of their candidate's were deeply aligned. Others went with a measure of resentment, as their vote was more about keeping particular agendas out than supporting a candidate's position. While still others entered the polling booth scratching their heads, unsure of whom should receive the benefit of their vote.

However you arrived at the polling station, take a moment and pat yourselves on the back. Congratulate yourself, not just because you honoured your civic duty and displayed tangible appreciation for the privilege of living in a democratic society, but congratulate yourself for allowing your interminable optimism to take center stage. Yes, that's right, I said it, optimism. There's a part of this author that wishes to say idealism, but I certainly don't want to disrupt anyone's workday.

One might say there are a slew of (seemingly) legitimate reasons to avoid voting. To this writer's mind, one of the most glaring examples is a condition we'll term here as the voter mistress effect.

Around election time, no one is more beautiful, more attractive or sought after than the citizen of legal voting age. Citizens are inundated by solicitations and advertisements of 'approved messages' promising anything about themselves or their ideologies that may connect long enough to garner an endorsement. Incredible emphasis is placed on how all this is happening to meet your needs and how they are there for you.

Whilst you're being serenaded, a little voice inside is telling you that this sudden interest feels temporary, but you cast doubt aside because the songs of tax cuts and fortified public school systems sounds so sweet. You listen to your suitor/candidate all the way to the hotel/voting station, snapping your fingers the whole way. You vote. Suddenly, the music stops. The focus has abruptly shifted off of you. The newly elected/re-elected officials are off (hopefully) making good on their campaign assertions. The defeated candidates have lost their motivation to court you. So where does this leave the voter? In the proverbial hotel room, alone, slightly disoriented, reading the generic note on the nightstand saying, "I had a great time, thanks for your vote."

"Ah man," thinks the voter, "I should have never exposed my desire to see health care reform. Now look, they got me!"

As the voter checks himself or herself out of the two-star hotel, a final thought hits them. They think, "well, maybe the candidate will do what they said they would do, which will make all of this worthwhile, plus I won't have to feel cheap." It is within this simple afterthought that we witness true optimism; the fundamental belief that despite (sometimes glaring) evidence to the contrary, positive governmental movement is within reach.

Elected officials will soon settle in. The fundamental optimism, which permitted their tenure, will soon be obscured. Don't allow it. For those of you who are in the same predicament as this writer, who wished the elections had yielded a decidedly different result, remind yourselves that fundamental optimism can be the foundation of so many other worthwhile outlets.

Concerned about education? Tutor a child. Concerned about the environment? Join a letter writing campaign and be diligent about recycling in your home. Concerned about the level of unemployment in your state? Feel gratitude for your employment and remain empathetic to those who are struggling, until the tide turns.

In creating new outlets a momentum will develop. Before you know it, challenges that are of utmost importance to you are being met by your efforts. You're now an integral unit for progress. Further (and this one never ceases to inspire me) there are others of like minds eager to help keep the momentum you've inspired going. It has, and continues to happen that way for me.

According to the Neilsen ratings, 16.4 million Americans recently tuned in to the fifth season premiere of NBCs America's Got Talent to see who could juggle, sing, tell jokes etc.

Approximately 85.2 million Americans displayed their talent for optimism by voting in the 2010, midterm elections.

To my mind this speaks well of America's use of talent, but let us explore how much further we can go.

Pat yourselves on the back voters, and keep optimism active.