October 14, 2016

How to Vote Like an American

Note: This piece originally ran on EricgKirsch.com

I used to love election season. As a political science major at Purdue University during the 2008 elections, I was enthralled with every aspect of the process. I had recently left the military after multiple deployments to Afghanistan and to Iraq and wanted desperately to understand the political system which brought us into those theaters, as well as why. What has changed in eight years? We are not, nor have we ever been, living in a stagnant society. Polarity of opinion is nothing new. There is, however, an increasing tendency to place focus on fringe political extremities.

Like many Americans, I feel a level of disenfranchisement in our political process. The once towering oak of patriotic feeling burgeoning from the root of the democratic process is withering. The soil feels adulterate and barren. At the current tick of the clock there is no disputing the incestuous relationship composing the corporate-political-media machine. A clever narrative of rating-chasing division highlights the ten percent on each periphery, while the other quarter billion people feel forced to choose the lesser of two evils.

We squabble about past events and start riots in support or opposition of a person who claims to have the answers. We are easily manipulated into the belief that a presidential candidate has more power than we the people. People feel entitled to their opinions, regardless if they lack the necessary time and experience to have properly developed them. Those individuals harbor a misguided belief that being vociferous is the same as being accurate. If I can yell louder than you, I am correct.

I know you America. You don’t hate the government, you just want them to be held accountable to at least the same level you are. You want them to have to pay their bills on time and stay out of your business. You don’t actually have a problem with gay people getting married, or your neighbor smoking a joint in their living room. You don’t mind paying taxes when it goes to building roads, schools, libraries, and helping those truly in need. You don’t think someone is a racist just because they disagree with you. You don’t think all Muslims are terrorists or that new immigrants are a bad thing for the country, because you understand that, more than likely, someone in your family tree was an immigrant too.

It is important to understand that, regardless of what the news says, you are the majority. The media profits from showing the most extreme viewpoints, creating division. As a result, politicians cater to these outliers. That’s not us though, is it America? 99.99% of the population wouldn’t cry about someone’s name in chalk, yet such an incident is repetitively plastered on the “news” to intentionally create a false division. Why?

Allow me to remind you, the overwhelming majority of United States citizens, who go to work, pay your taxes, and do right by your family, of something you already know. We are being manipulated into believing we are fractured. Bullshit slogans like, “Make America great again,” evoke a belief that we have fallen, that we are less than we used to be. Standing on a platform of “Change” is a parlor trick, and a cheap one at that.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” Let’s take a minute then to discuss an idea. You are currently sitting on more democratic power than can ever hope to be dropped into a ballot box. You possess an overwhelmingly persuasive autonomy, greater than all of the propaganda on all of the news networks combined. You are the center of this great nation, and how you spend your time and resources is the ripple-creating-pebble in our collective patriotic pond.

Stop watching Trump, Clinton, and Sanders and start reading Emerson, Mill, and Aristotle. Stop handing over your power twenty dollars at a time. Do five minutes of research into a company before giving them your monetary vote. Ignorance is not an excuse. You make this nation great, not these plastic, opportunistic, self-serving politicians. You are the majority, not the screaming, whining, safe-place needing individuals the media sells you. You want America to maintain its place as a free and prosperous union? Look in the mirror and understand such a responsibility is 100% yours.

This is our revolution. It will not be made better or worse by any single elected official. It will not be won by violent force or sniveling platitudes, but rather by the moderate majority making rational educated decisions every single day, not just the first Tuesday in November.

How will you vote today?

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