We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

~The Declaration of Independence~

I remember a Thanksgiving morning, many moons ago, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade with my Mom.  Growing up in Canada, I was home from school with a fever, but secretly loving the fact that I was cuddled under a quilt, glued to the television coverage as each float passed by, out doing the next.  That was truly my first impression of America, a land of parades and smiling faces, and endless opportunity. Years later, I find myself living here, and truly loving the experience, the people, the prospects, and the kindness.  But my view is more realistic now.  I see America through the eyes of an adult now.  I see that the beauty is just as real as I initially thought, but so are the growing pains of a country learning to find its position in a global economy that has presented some of the most complex problems of our lifetime.

As a transplanted Canadian in the United States, election day leaves me with kind of a helpless feeling.  I’m here, but unable to vote.  I live, work, and parent here…but when it comes to the election, I am a bystander to democracy.  Which, if you knew me, would seem so incredibly wrong, as I am a political junkie.  I have studied the policy and position statements of the candidates, I have read, and actually written about health care reform and what it could mean for both health care costs and the actual citizens who require access. I have fact checked, discussed, had conversations with others….but I cannot vote.

So, to sit here this morning, watching the news stations as they dissect every possible outcome scenario…it is maddening.

That said, I decided to put down some of my own personal reflections on voting.  The following is a simple list of what I would consider when casting a ballot. You need to make your own decisions, so please understand I share my thoughts with respect for your personal choices.

When voting, I would:

  • Know the History:  When was the last time you read The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights?  The origins of this country are both humbling and enlightening, and truly can serve as a compass as you make your decision.  I would challenge you to take the time before casting your vote to look over the documents that are the basis of the freedoms we all sometimes take for granted.

  • Know Your Reality:  You can’t make informed decisions without doing your homework.  You can’t have a balanced view of each candidate without being willing to truly listen to the opposing views and weigh the pros and cons that are based on your belief systems.  We have been lulled into a dream state of sorts, being fed politically charged partisan media that has been packaged and re-packaged to vilify one candidate, and elevate another.  Depending on your channel of preference, you could be watching a completely different election than your neighbor.  Make sure you do not let the partisan messaging ( on both sides) skew the actual picture of reality.  Do your homework, and understand how each candidate’s offerings will affect your bottom line, your quality of life, your retirement, your children.

  • Know the Reality of your Neighbor:  If you look at the documents I have linked above, it becomes very clear that the power of early America came from the belief that everyone deserved a fair shake.  Everyone deserves to have the same opportunities and rights as you do…no exceptions.  Look around you.  Is that happening?  If not, how can you affect change through your vote?

  • Vote For Your Vision for America:  This is the beauty of a democracy.  It’s up to you.  You vote for what you believe in, and what you would like to see for your country.  Be thankful for that privilege, and realize that there are so many who will never know the freedoms that you have on this day.

  • Consider America’s position Globally: The times are a changing, and we must consider America’s position on the global stage.  I’m not just talking about military brute strength.  I’m talking about relationships, and the country’s ability to recognize that we can learn from the innovation of others beyond our borders.  I’m talking about the collective global strength of a balanced dialogue with the diverse groups all over this wonderful world of ours.

  • The Economy is Not the Only Burden for Our Next Generation:  I don’t say this lightly.  I have actually had some “talk sternly at the TV” moments in the past eight months, listening to the conversations of politicians about the burden we are leaving on our children. But they are always focused on the debt alone.  I see a bigger burden that needs to be recognized.  Right at this moment, in the way we are treating each other, the way we are allowing politics to divide us when we need to be together more than ever.  We are teaching our children a lesson that is harder to undo than the woes of the economy.  We are better than this, much, much better.  Consider this as you decide the direction of your country.

  • The Truth (And the Solution) Lies in the Middle:  However you cast your vote, remember this.  Life is not black and white.  True reality presents us with multiple shades of grey as we face the tough decisions.  No one party will ever have it all figured out. Things are never completely bad, nor are they all sunshine and roses. The biggest message that needs to be sent back to the leaders of our country ( and the other countries as well for that matter) is that we need to start working together if this is going to be successful.  Each candidate presents certain points that have validity, and we should be able to admit that, and use that to our advantage.  As long as we stay attached to our party affiliation only to determine what is right and wrong, we will never achieve the true success that we are capable of attaining.

  • It’s All About What We Do Tomorrow: Expect “Post-Vote Hangover” at the water cooler tomorrow. In fact, I think many of us have been suffering election fatigue for some time now.  Who knows what will happen.  But, whether your party wins or loses, tomorrow is a new day.  As I have so often said in the past about the difficulties and disappointments in life, we have a choice.  We can become bitter or we can become better.  I pray that we all make a choice tomorrow,  to move towards a collective vision for America that celebrates this country’s origins and resilience.

I know this sounds like a bit of a rant, and for that I apologize.  But this is what I think about on this election day.  I still see the same magic of this country that I marveled at as I watched the television so many years ago.  I am so thankful to have a chance to live and work here, and believe that no matter what the victor, we can work towards the collective success for every American.  I also believe that each American, making a post-election choice to move forward,  can be open to work with other countries towards a better planet.

It’s just that simple.

Hope you all get out to vote today.  Take a moment to be thankful for the opportunity.