Some of you may be aware that there's this "election" thing coming up next Tuesday. It's kind of a big deal. Of course, some of you may *not* be aware of it, and that's actually kind of sad (unless you don't live in the US, of course, in which case it's semi-understandable).
Many people are out there encouraging people to vote. "Have your say!" they proclaim, trying to get as many people out there to vote. "You shouldn't complain about how things are going if you don't take the time to vote!" they also say.
While this is all well and good, I would add a caveat to all of that. Yes, voting is important. However, to me it's most important that your vote be an informed vote. Take the time to learn a little bit about the candidates and what they stand for. Listen to them; read about them. This applies whether it's a local election or an election for President.
(This is not a political blog, so I'm not going to advocate one way or the other. Those who know me know which way I lean, of course).
When you consider voting, you should ask yourself why you're voting for that candidate. If your reason boils down to "he's a great speaker!" or "I'd love to have a beer with him" or "he's so cool" or even "old white guys have to stick together," then I'd hazard to say that your vote is not an informed one.
It doesn't have to be a deep understanding of *all* the issues. It can even be one issue that you feel strongly about. At least it's an issue and not something frivolous, though I think that's not seeing the bigger picture if you do it that way. It doesn't even have to be a deep understanding of some of them, as long as it's at least somewhat of an understanding.
For instance, you don't have to have delved down deep enough to say "I'm not voting for Obama because he won't take a stance on how flying unicorns could help the Middle East situation."
But there should be something issue-oriented in there. There should be a reason you're voting for one candidate over the other that is more than something superficial. If you're not at least somewhat informed, I don't believe your vote is helping the country, whichever way you vote.
I would never go so far as to say that you don't have the *right* to vote if you're going to vote superficially. But I do think you owe it to your fellow citizens to have some reason. I would rather have 55% voter turnout where every voter is informed, than to have 85% turnout where most of them are of the "my guy's way cooler than the other guy!" variety.
So yes, get out and vote on Tuesday (if you haven't already). But before you do that, how about doing a little reading up on what's going on first?
Help keep the country from going deeper into the toilet. If the other guy wins (whoever your other guy is), it's already going to be heading down there anyway. You might as well know *why*.