If you're like me you are eagerly counting down the days until the November election...not because you cannot wait to exercise the gift that is the American right to vote, but because you just want to please make all of the commercials and annoying pundits stop!
While they all chatter on about how much money is being wasted in Washington, billions are being wasted on ads to try to tell us that. I say wasted because the messages are so hateful, devisive, and one-sided that they are rarely even remotely persuasive to someone who has not already made up his/her mind. In fact, that's the problem with the vast majority of political discourse in this nation. It's almost impossible to find a person, especially on television, who actually listens to the person with whom they are allegedly having a discussion. Bringing on intelligent, unbiased people to have a real conversation about the most critical issues of our time apparently doesn't make "good television." Though, I'd surely be more likely to tune in to see that.
Yet despite all of the backstabbing, petty, mean-spirited national ads I see, it turns out it's a quiet, local ad that annoys, or perhaps saddens me the most. It features an older couple at their kitchen table filling out absentee ballots together. They have arrived at the section with ballot proposals, and begin complaining about the fact that these proposals would require amending the Michigan Constitution.
Without even reading any of the proposals in their entirety, the woman remarks, "I'm voting no on all of them. None of this junk belongs in our Constitution," to which he replies, "I say hands off our Constitution," and she pats his arm and says, "I agree." They then proceed to vote NO for all options.
Now don't get me wrong, this is in no way a commentary on voting NO rather than YES on each proposal. What I find appalling is the idea that any organization would promote voting either for or against any proposal without carefully considering each issue on its own merits. Constitutions are meant to be amended. Without amendments to a certain Constitution we're all rather fond of, we wouldn't have freedom of speech or religion in this country. We wouldn't have abolished slavery without an amendment, or given women the right to vote without an amendment.
That certainly doesn't mean all proposed amendments are worth ratifying, but I strongly believe it means each is worth truly considering before blindly checking the "No" box across an entire section of the ballot!
At least they are voting in that section of the ballot; however. Many people don't read a ballot in its entirety. They vote straight party ticket, and assume they are done, but they're not. In fact, there are many important issues in the nonpartisan section of the ballot that merit our attention, as brilliantly illustrated in an entertaining new video reuniting cast members of the West Wing. The promo is the brainchild of Michigan Supreme Court candidate Bridget McCormack, whose sister, Mary McCormack had starred in the show. One version of the message promotes McCormack as a judicial candidate, while the other, leaves her out but sends the same important message: Please vote on the entire ballot.
For those of you in Michigan who are unsure of everything that will appear on your ballot, the State of Michigan has a tremendous Michigan Voter Information Center you can visit online. There you can find out if you're currently registered to vote, download the mail-in application if you're not, view a map to your polling location, and see a sample ballot for your area, among other features.
As tired as we all are of all of this negativity and the endless ads on television and radio, not to mention in our mailboxes, let us not lose sight of the importance of the opportunity that lies ahead in November. People die every day around the world fighting for the chance to do this simple thing. We're all experiencing voter fatigue, but we cannot allow it to stop us from fully exercising our rights. View a sample ballot, read it all the way through, get educated on the issues and candidates (even judges), and go to the polls in November.
American soldiers are risking and losing their lives to defend our rights. The very least we can do is our homework.