What does it mean to participate in democracy, a republic? What does it mean to serve in the armed services? What does it mean to be a voter, a veteran? Broad questions can bring very specific answers. I have dear friends who are veterans or current service members and dear friends who have lived and loved while their service member was deployed far away. I cannot begin to imagine that depth of commitment and I do not want to diminish those who can and do live at that level by trying to write of that experience.
I do vote, though, and I see how these are tied together. What do we vote for? Why do we vote? Who voted? Who didn’t vote? What does it mean? It seems that Veterans’ Day serves as a good day for that reflection.
According to the Washington Post, it is estimated that just 36.4 percent of eligible voters cast ballots last week. While midterm election voting rates tend to be lower than in presidential election years, that is the lowest turnout since World War II. What does it mean in 2014 when political spending is at an all time high and the election cycle seems to be ongoing? For something that seems to be so casual a choice, it helps to think of the significance. Approximately 82,500,000 people voted. We voted.
We vote to participate.
We vote because we argue.
We vote because we roll our eyes.
We vote because we switch off the car radio at the beginning of the next negative political ad.
We vote because we attend meetings.
We vote because we post our political beliefs on our social media accounts.
We vote because we shy away from political discussions with coworkers.
We vote because we eagerly sip coffee and tea with our political friends, those who agree with us.
We vote because we idealize the action.
We vote for debate, for discussion.
We vote because we remember our school book history lessons of the wars and movements to get the right to vote.
We vote because we registered to do so.
We vote because we researched political candidates.
We vote for the first time.
We vote for history.
We vote for our children.
We vote for the generations before us.
We vote for the generations after us.
We vote for those who do not.
We vote because we cannot imagine doing anything else.
We vote for partisanship.
We vote for the status quo.
We vote for change.
We vote for satisfaction.
We vote for dissatisfaction.
We vote on local ballot issues that get less attention, but arguably have a bigger role in our lives than federal law.
We vote out of fear.
We vote for pride.
We vote for love.
We vote out of a sense of duty.
We vote as the first generation.
We vote for tradition.
We vote because it is what we have.
We vote for belief.
We vote to put a stop to the argument in our minds.
We vote for peace.
We vote for war.
We vote for an idealism we no longer possess.
We vote for an idealism we will never lose.
We vote because it gives us voice.
We vote for optimism.
We vote for pessimism.
We vote for belief in a system.
We vote even when we do not know.
We vote for gratitude.
We vote for the blood, the battles to get the vote.
We vote for candidates who seem better than most.
We vote for candidates who seem to be the lesser of the evils.
We vote for taxes.
We vote for no taxes.
We vote to solve problems.
We vote for our divided country.
We vote for others.
We vote for us.
We vote to send a message.
We vote as one in millions.
We vote for our neighbors.
We vote against our neighbors.
We vote for friends.
We vote for strangers.
We vote so that we can complain.
We vote so that we can brag.
We vote for the past, the present, the future.
We vote for special causes and concerns.
We vote because we could never imagine running as a candidate.
We vote because one day we will run for office.
We vote to be better.
We vote for this instrument of participation.
We vote because we do not run a political action committee.
We vote along party lines.
We vote for a broad range of parties and issues.
We vote because it is complicated.
We vote because it is simple.
We vote for new.
We vote for old.
We vote for all.
We vote because we remember when a nation stood still waiting for the decision to be made.
We vote to break a tie.
We vote for a clear victory.
We vote for a decisive loss.
We vote so that we don’t give up.
We vote so others won’t give up on us.
We vote for community, for country.
We vote because we try and we try again.
We vote for many reasons, gathered up in our hearts and minds.