1. If you don’t exercise your right to vote, you voluntarily give up your right to squawk. I mean it. If you didn’t vote, I don’t want to hear you complaining later.
2. You and I may differ in our political ideologies. This does not make me your “enemy.” Vigorous debate is crucial for our democracy. If you consider me your enemy just because we differ in opinion, you’re wrong – and most candidates are much closer in ideology than the opposing party is comfortable admitting. And while I’m on the topic, partisan squabbling impedes progress, people.
3. Politicians are not your friends. They are trying to get elected or stay in office. You may experience some ancillary benefit from a politician’s policies, but their intent is to obtain or stay in office. You should always remember that their interests and agenda come first and any benefit your might receive is merely happy coincidence. Politicians are often trying to do the “right thing,” but you may or may not benefit from their definition of what that “right thing” is.
4. If you live in a state that permits “straight party” voting and vote for one party via straight-ticket, I have three words for you: “Shame on you.” I consider it your civic duty to fairly consider each candidate on merit and platform, and no one party represents your – or America’s – best interest. One size does NOT fit all. C’mon people. Yes, it’s a lot harder and a lot more work, but worth it in the end.
5. I’m perfectly willing to listen to your arguments for/against a candidate or issue, and you may even change my mind. But if you aren’t willing to fairly consider my point of view – even if radically different than yours – I’ll return the same courtesy.
6. It makes no sense to hope that the economy tanks (or some other major catastrophe occurs) just so your candidate can be elected or stay in office. Worse, it’s un-American. Think about it.
7. As a voter, you owe it to yourself – and your country, state, and municipality – to inform yourself on the positions of all the candidates and issues on the ballot, long before Election Day. If you’re unclear on a candidate or an issue in the voting booth, don’t cast a ballot on that issue. An uninformed voter is a dangerous voter.
8. When a politician gives a speech or speaks at a debate, for the most part they are merely reciting memorized lines given to them by image consultants, campaign managers and marketing firms (experts at “spin,” in other words). If politicians were somehow forced to develop their own speeches – and defend them – you might be surprised at how different their own ideas are. You should always keep in mind that your opinions are being manipulated by agencies incredibly adept at influencing voter thoughts and attitudes.
9. Politicians promise a lot of things. Job creation, lower taxes, rejuvenation of the economy, you name it. After obtaining office, it’s a whole different thing, however, and the truth is, they can only do so much. In short, don’t believe everything you hear. By all means, support your candidate on general principles, but don’t expect them to follow through on what they say they’re going to do once elected. They’re telling you what you want to hear, after all.
10. It may be hard to believe what with all the media spin nowadays, but most candidates are probably pretty honest and have attempted to formulate some type of plan to help guide our country. Occupying an elected office is not an easy job, nor is opening yourself up to scrutiny of your public and personal life during campaigns and while in office. Therefore, if someone has decided to share their vision for our country by running for office, they deserve a modicum of respect – until you know for sure otherwise. Then, have at it.
Final note: Elections are good for our democracy and ensure that politicians represent the current will and mood of constituents. Elections are a time for healthy debate and vigorous competition among political parties. They are not a time for hatred or revenge or fear-mongering. This is supposed to be interesting and fun, people. Don’t let an election erode your opinion of your neighbor. And always remember that people fought and died for the right to do this.