Those who know me know I’m pretty conservative. I’m a registered Republican and will be voting for John McCain. Furthermore, John Kerry didn’t win when I voted for him. So how on Earth did voting for him change my life? It was that election (or really after it) that taught me to think for myself.
The 2004 election, as I remember it, was one of passion and anger, just like this year. My friends were all very liberal and I was what I thought Republican was. But there was something different about the me of 2004: I didn’t think I knew everything (some friends will agree that’s changed). I assumed my friends knew more about politics and didn’t bother to do the leg work myself to define who I was politically. So I let them do it for me. As a result, I very ignorantly voted for John Kerry. I didn’t know who I was voting for, nor did I think about why I was voting for him. My friends wanted me to vote for him and that’s what I based my decision on. They knew more than me, right?
So how did this change my life? Well after the election was over, several of them claimed the world was ending. This was the worst possible for thing for America and Americans were stupid for voting Bush in for a second term. That seemed a little extreme to me. It was then I realized that maybe they didn’t know everything and I should think for myself. So I really defined my values and views and why I thought the way I did. I have been doing so over the last four years by staying informed and questioning what I read and what people tell me. I do my very best to back up what I say with fact and when someone says something that seems wrong, I ask them where they got their information. I encourage everyone I know to do the same.
I realize I should have written this before now, but hey- what can you do? My advise for this election is to vote for who you think is best for the country. Don’t let others decide for you. Define who you are, and what your values are, and then decide on a candidate. Don’t let the candidates tell you who you are and how you should think. Don’t not vote for McCain just because he is Republican (Mom and Dad), and don’t not vote for Obama because he’s black or his middle name is Hussein. Those are stupid reasons not to vote for someone. Make an informed decision.
But most importantly, vote. My friends know I’ll argue with anyone and if they can defend their stance, I will value their opinion and accept if even if I disagree. But if you don’t vote, I don’t really give a shit about your opinion because you clearly don’t care enough to voice it.
So I’ve changed a lot in the last four years. I try to stay informed and make claims I can back up with fact. While I don’t think I know everything (some will argue that point), I think I know enough to make an informed decision- and you should too.