Shut Up and Vote

Life is short. And because life is short, I’m not going to waste one minute – one second, even – spinning my wheels over things I am powerless to change. That includes the current presidential race.

Do I have opinions? Of course. Do you want to hear them? No? I didn’t think so. I don’t particularly want to hear yours, either. It’s swell if we agree, but if we don’t, we might jeopardize our friendship. My friend, you are precious to me and I don’t want to lose you.

Besides, we could stand toe-to-toe arguing until our knees buckled and we fell over backwards. We could have polite, learned discussions that would light up the intellectual skies. We could blacken each other’s eyes and bloody each other’s noses over our differences. But chances are, neither you nor I would change our opinions as a result.

There is a deafening babble surrounding this year’s presidential race. It’s hard to sort out the issues from the distractions, the lies from the truth. Truth is a slippery little critter at best. My truth may not be yours; yours may strike me as exceedingly iffy. It’s tempting to fall back on simplistic answers and ignore the fact that complex ideas can’t be expressed in slogans. It’s tempting to say, “I’m not voting this year.” Or, “I’ll write in my dog’s name.” But how can we forget there are people in the world willing to die for the right to vote? Remember those Middle Easterners proudly displaying their ink-stained thumbs?

If all the ranting and raving get to be too much, take comfort in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, written just before the Civil War: “…sail on, O Ship of State. Sail on, O Union strong and great.”

I have to trust that our Ship of State will sail on, no matter what the outcome of this election is. Meanwhile, I give you permission to dial it down a notch, to ease up on your First Amendment rights, and remember that we’re all in this together.  I give you – and myself – permission to just shut up and vote.