Educate yourself and seize the opportunity to vote

Published 9:14 am Sunday, November 4, 2012

A divided electorate will go to the polls this week in what many consider to be one of the most important presidential elections in recent history. Certainly, it has been one of the most contentious and expensive of all time.

Unarguably, candidates are traversing a polarized country with partisanship among individuals and scurrilous politicos at an all-time high. Congress has become putrefied in a sea of political agendas; compromise, the vehicle upon which Democracy was hatched and survived, is an antiquarian ideal.

While Congress needlessly squabbles over even the most benign of issues, American citizens are perhaps more divided than at any other time since the Antebellum days, when slavery and the debate over states’ rights ruptured the country.

Today, the issues are more complex and less discernable. Morality has become a passing fad, schools are no longer safe havens for students, terrorism continues to be redefined daily and continues to flourish unfettered, instability encumbers economic growth, jobs are becoming increasingly scarce, global warming and its side effects can no longer be considered just a theory, and inner city streets are more often than not shooting galleries claiming an inordinate percentage of young African-American males.

Each party is all too eager to postulate on who’s to blame and each party certainly has its own solutions. One’s core values, morals and political ilk will determine how each of us will cast our vote.

But seize the opportunity to vote.

Voting is not an inherent right but a privilege, paid for with the spilled blood and lost lives of our servicemen and servicewomen who daily continue to place themselves in harm’s way around the globe to protect that privilege.

Remember, though, to enter the voting booth educated; don’t be misled by fancy slogans, political jingles, flowery campaign promises or even the incessant propaganda being spewed out by each party. Take the time to research and evaluate each candidate, find out what he stands for — has he been true to what he believes, can he be trusted — and then determine who has earned your vote, which carries an equal weight in the process.

Although the presidential election is the most important with the biggest impact, Louisiana residents are being asked to weigh in on several proposed amendments to the Louisiana Constitution, including term limits for school board members and tightened guidelines on gun control to representation in Congress and selection of local officials.

Tuesday will not only be an important day in American history but also a celebration of an experiment that was born more than 200 years ago and what has become a model for others to emulate. When you walk into the booth and pull the lever, Democracy scores another victory, no matter the outcome.