The Simple Act of Political Protest


(This has been edited)

In two weeks, it will be Election Day and I am planning on voting. I shall not tell you who I am voting for but I will tell you why I am voting.

I vote because it is my right. It was a right that I was given through efforts of others, some who died for this country on fields of battle and some who died seeking equality in this country. If I don’t vote, I forfeit my right to my freedom.

Governments and individuals may try to take away my right to speak; governments and individuals may try to take away my right to protest. But when governments and individuals try to take away my right to vote, they are taking away what freedom is about. And I shall resist. In the meantime, I vote. I vote because I believe it is the single, most defiant act of liberty one could imagine.

I vote because there are those who cannot vote, who do not have a voice in the affairs of this country or in other countries. I vote so that generations to come have the same rights and privileges that I have and enjoy.

I cannot tell you whom to vote for nor do I want you to tell me whom to vote for. Do not use scare tactics or fear to get my vote. Tell me the truth; tell me what you want to do and how you propose to do it. Let me decide how I shall vote.

Do not treat me in a manner that you wouldn’t want to be treated. Do not try to explain what your opponent said or didn’t say; I hear the words and I can think, so I can figure it out.

Do not presume that I will vote for a particular candidate because I am a Christian and an evangelical. Being a Christian and an evangelical is not about automatic votes; it is about being for others as much as you are for yourself. It is not the issues that define what a Christian believes; it is what a Christian believes that defines the issues. And a Christian has an obligation to mankind first, not to politicians and the political process.

When I was 18 and participating against the war in Viet Nam, I remember people crying out, “America, my country, right or wrong.” But I also remember that most people don’t know the entire statement,

“The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, “My country, right or wrong.” In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” (By Carl Schurz, 1872)

Patriots do question what their government says and does. Patriots challenge the government, its leaders and the politicians who wish to be the leaders to do the right thing. I will not nor have I knowingly voted for a candidate who has questioned my patriotism.

Patriotism isn’t about not blindly parroting what others tell you to say; it is about speaking out. Do not question my patriotism because of whom I support or in what I believe. Do not question my patriotism because I do not wear an American flag on my coat lapel but that doesn’t make me any less an American.

Putting a flag in your lapel is a fashion statement, not a political statement. And if people really want to know, there is flag by our door that we fly on national holidays and there are two American flags in my bookcase that remind us that we do not need to wear a flag to know what America is about. There are two tombstones in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery and a plaque in St. Joachim’s Cemetery to remind me what freedom is and why we vote.

Patriotism isn’t about what you wear; it is about what you believe.

I believe that our country should not go into a war without thinking first. War is far too serious to be done without thinking. We need to think about the cost and the impact; we need to think about the outcome. It is clear that we haven’t done that.

I believe that this country stands for opportunity. I believe that this country should give everyone the opportunity. I am not against people getting rich but when the salary of upper management are grossly out of line with what the workers make, there is a problem with the concept of opportunity. We have seen too many cases where companies are going bankrupt or being taken over by the government while upper management are getting bonuses far beyond what any of the workers for that company would have earned in their lifetime. Earn all you can but do not do it on the backs of the workers.

I believe that all people should be treated fairly and equally

Tell me what you want to do and how you propose to do. Do not tell me what your opponent is going to do; that’s their responsibility.

Now, come November 4th, I will vote. To vote is the single most defiant act of liberty imagined. Governments may try to silence the masses and the easiest way to do that is to take away the vote. So I vote in defiance of those who would seek to take away my voice and my liberties; I vote because it is one act that states I am a person who can think and make intelligent decisions.

Others have worked to make sure that I have the right to vote; I shall not let them down. I will vote so that justice and opportunity are possible for all people. I am a patriot and I will vote.

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