This Sunday, just over a week away from the 2012 Presidential Election, I am thinking of how grateful I am to have the right to vote. As a woman, as a young person, as a worker, as a Southerner, and as a person with a craniofacial condition, there are lots of reasons that I'm glad that my government wants my input in how we run our country. I represent a unique perspective in the country and I want my leaders to know that -- and I want them to know your perspective, too.
No matter how small you feel your vote is or how little impact you think you have (a common groan I'm hearing from my 20-something peers), the right to vote distinguishes our country from so many others on Earth. We can communicate our needs and rights to our governing body and in turn, they determine trade policy, economic policy, educational policy, health and medical research policy and funding for different groups of citizenry who need subsidies from time to time: all the way from the large corporations getting tax incentives for research and development on energy to power our nation to my 77-year-old Nanny who uses Medicare ti stay healthy and fight illness in her retirement. With our vote, we tell our governing body what matters to us and what we think they should prioritize.
Naturally, with over 300 million Americans, we're going to differ on what's important. And that's why voting is so important. It is one of our rights; it is our free, unearned right as an American, but one that was fought for decades ago by people who risked their "Lives, Fortunes and sacred Honor." Indeed, many Americans lost their life securing the right to vote over the years because their rights had not been previously considered. We all must participate in our democracy to ensure it works for us, by us and with our voices, we evolve the country to remain the greatest nation, founded on a human experiment that everyone is equal.
So if you're of age this year, I urge you to vote. Whether you're in a red state voting blue or a blue state voting red or a swing state voting green - just vote! (Side note: If you hate your "two choices," I recommend you take just 90 minutes to watch the third party candidates' debate.) With your vote, you are exercising a right, participating in your present and future, and turning the wheels of democracy. If you're frustrated with the system, remember: votes add up and you must "be the change you wish to see."
So take a moment, Google your state voting registrar's website and make sure you're registered. Check your polling place and make a plan to vote. If you can early vote, go cast your ballot in advance and avoid the Election Day frenzy. Either way, you will never regret voting because representing your interests, your unique American experience, is the patriotic thing to do.
Election day is Tuesday, November 6, 2012.