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Rock the Vote or Boat

It's November 6th and I've considered many times since the evening of the 4th to write a blog talking about many different things. I could write about my thoughts for the country for the next four years, my relief that Bush will soon be out, or maybe my anger towards the Republican party for choosing who they did for the Republican Presidential Candidate, about the huge voter turnout, or maybe I could just expand more on the light bulb topic of my last blog since it wasn't very lengthy (obvious sarcasm intended). Most of you know that I'm a Ron Paul supporter. I have been ever since my brother turned me on to him years ago. He sent me a link to a simple website that had updated writings of Dr. Paul's and for the first time in my life I realized that there are people in government that resist the temptation to "go with the flow" and actually take a stand against "the flow" that threatens present and future liberties.

With all the hype of this election, the cacophony got me thinking about patriotism and what that word means to me. Growing up, I always understood that patriotism is loving one's own country. And I'm willing to bet that most everyone would define it this way. But, I wonder, what defines the word "country". Is my country the trees, grass, lakes, mountains, and shores? Is my country the people on my street, the people living in these trees, grass, mountains, etc.? Is my country the company I work for, the companies that we sell to, the companies that keep Americans working and prosperous? Is my country the local government, state government, or federal government? Surely, it can't just be one of these things. Likewise, there's no way that it can be all of them. Right?

I'm reminded of the common phrase, "Love it or leave it." I've heard this phrase used and seen it pop up in the comments sections of many blogs and articles on news sites. My question is, "What constitutes, NOT loving your country?" The word "patriotic" simply means to be like a patriot. What is a patriot in modern times, though? We know what one was back in the Revolutionary War days: a person who loved America, the freedom it stood for, and was willing to sacrifice in order to see that the country and all it stood for would prevail against any powers that threatened those freedoms. In many ways, it could be said that it wasn't the grass that the patriots of yesterday were sacrificing for. Nor was it the government that they risked their lives for since it didn't yet exist. It would be safe to say that the patriots were fighting for freedom. Freedom from government over-stepping their bounds. Freedom for themselves as well as freedom for their children. One might even go as far to say that patriotism could therefore be defined as "a love and willingness to sacrifice for establishing or maintaining an established country in which freedoms are upheld."

I like that definition a little better. Could the argument of freedom be taken too far, though? For example, during the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1860 for Governor of Illinois, the main topic was slavery. Lincoln, the Republican candidate, was against slavery and argued that the Declaration of Independence was for all men and women and not just for white ones. Douglas, the Democratic Candidate, argued that it was Lincoln's right to not agree with slavery and therefore he didn't have to own any, but that it was also others rights to own them if they so chose. Douglas maintained that people should have the right to own slaves and he eventually won the Governor's seat. One thing Lincoln said summing up Douglas' theory on slave ownership was, "No one should have the right to choose to do wrong."

I like that quote, but to be fair while it almost always stands to be true it can't always be applied in a free country. Because, the definition of what is wrong is based off of society's vote on what is morally right and wrong and I'm not convinced that society really gets morality. For example, abortion is wrong. No doubt about it. Yet people will vote for people who support it and will directly vote to allow people to choose. But, like Lincoln said, "No one should have the right to choose to do wrong." And, since this blog has turned me into a betting man, I'm again willing to bet that over ninety-five percent of people who voted directly or indirectly for "the right to choose" would do anything in their ability to avoid being forced to actually assist first-hand in an abortion clinic. Let that one sink in for a minute. Get out your moral calculator and type away when you're ready.

People are willing to say that something wrong is right as long as they're not the ones that actually have to do the wrong deed. Like I said before, I don't think that society really gets morality. Or maybe it's just the election process that they don't get. See, our votes have to reflect our morals otherwise we send the message to Washington, the world, our children, and God, too, that we are immoral people. And that we prefer a society that is immoral, as well.

I believe that people need to wake up and smell the garbage. And I think that some people have somewhat roused, hence the huge voter turnout. But, I also think that while there was a record number of voters showing up at the polls the number of voters that showed up completely uninformed was most likely breaking records, as well. It seemed to me that everyone I spoke to about the candidates had their minds made up already long ago, but couldn't tell me more than one policy change that their chosen candidate was planning on making to make things better. As a matter of fact, most couldn't even tell me one, yet their minds were made up. I dislike the "Rock the Vote" campaign and others like it because they push people to vote but spend no time encouraging people to research the candidates or issues. I recently saw another short video campaign put on by a group of celebrities that was encouraging people to vote and went as far to say that "you should vote if you care about" the war, gay rights, abortion rights, the economy, taxes, etc., etc. Of course people care about these issues. Everyone has an opinion. That's the problem. Everyone has an opinion, many are willing to vote based off that opinion, but very few understand what those votes will affect. It's easy to vote for and feel good about women's rights, but not when babies are violently slaughtered as an effect. It's easy to vote for and feel good about slashing taxes on the middle class and raising them on the upper class, but not when it hurts local businesses which are still collaboratively the largest employer in the U.S. Who do you think work for them? The upper class? All taxes on corporations are passed down to the people. It's easy to vote for and feel good about helping the lower class financially, but not when the financial burden on everyone drags millions more into the lower class bracket.

It's not our privilege to vote, it's our duty. But, it's also our duty to be informed voters, not popularity contest judges. In the information age, no one has an excuse. My personal opinion: Senator Barack Obama was elected to be our next President of the United States because people were tired of the Republicans screwing it up for us and the word "change" wouldn't stop echoing off the walls where Obama made his speeches. It sure would be easy to vote for and feel good about voting for a real change for the good. I guess, we'll see what we get, though. Won't we?


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