When I was growing up, my family was never really into sports. Instead of cheering over a Final Four game or a World Series match-up…my family had politics. Election Day was our Super Bowl, and the caucus – our playoff game. When those big events roll around, you’ll be hard pressed to find us NOT at our local polling places. When the polling is over, you’ll find us glued to our respective television sets, channel surfing between all the news casts, and watching the returns. We bond over this in the same way some families do over box scores.
My Mom and Dad taught me early on to embrace my right to get involved in the political process. They urged me to research the candidates carefully before choosing where to cast my ballot. I was always taught that every vote counts, and every voice matters. I suppose that during my college years, when I rebelled and joined ‘the other party’ for a time, Mom and Dad were a little disappointed. However, they still believed in the system and always encouraged me to get involved and make informed decisions (regardless of my party affiliation).
I live in Iowa, and if you pay attention to US politics at all, you will know that we had our caucus this week. The American caucus and primary season gives the presidential candidates a bit of a sneak peek at how their campaigns are shaping up. As the first of its kind in the presidential election cycle, the Iowa caucus offers its registered party voters a unique opportunity to get involved right at the beginning of what will (undoubtedly) be a long and drawn out contest. In my opinion this is quite an honor.
Though many Iowa residents can caucus (every registered Republican or Democrat is eligible) many don’t. I personally talked to several folks who chose to sit this one out. They chose to do so because they were tired of all the phone calls (granted, there were MANY), or because they thought they had better things to do or because they felt their vote didn’t count.
Even if a person doesn’t believe that the caucus itself makes a difference (and this can be argued – and is, by many – just do a Google search for “Iowa Caucus Relevance”), I believe that involvement is always a better choice than apathy.
I still believe every vote counts.
Over 120,000 voters turned out to caucus in Iowa this year. Yes, I know – that’s a small number when you look at the big picture, but do you know how many votes separated the two guys who came in first and second place?
Eight votes!! Eight people!! That’s crazy. All it would have taken was the action of nine “my vote doesn’t count” folks, to bring about a different outcome. Wow! For the record, I’m not saying any of this in an effort to support one candidate or begrudge the win of another. I’m saying it to remind you that ONE does matter. It always matters - not just in politics, but in life as well. It is the folks who choose to get off their couch and DO something with their lives, who have lives well lived.
One vote does matter.
One person does matter.
I am reminding myself of this as I embark on a challenge in my own life. I need to lose weight. I know it’s cliché this time of year to vow to eat better and diet, but I have come to a point in my life where inaction is no longer acceptable. I need to get healthy and I need to do it now. No more “One more cookie doesn’t matter…” or “One more day avoiding a workout won’t matter”. Just like those caucus votes, these decisions (these “life votes”) also matter.
All the little things in life add up to the big things, and I want 2012 to be a year in which I embrace that which I need to “vote” for in life.
I vote for healthy eating, and exercise. I vote for sharing my challenges and experiences with others who know what I’m going through (as well as those who don’t). I vote for my boys to have the kind of mother who feels like running around the backyard with them. I vote for a better, improved version of myself.
I challenge you to vote with me. Vote in elections if you can, but also vote in your daily life. Vote by working toward your goals (even when that road is rough). Vote by standing for what you believe in (even when it isn’t easy or convenient or popular). Vote by taking chances when it matters most. Vote by being a good example to others. Vote by being courageous and loyal. Vote by staying strong. Vote with your faith. Vote with your integrity. Vote with your passion.
Your vote matters. It matters a lot.