The conventions are behind us and now it is on to the general election. I sit here today a very apprehensive voter, like so many of you. I can honestly say that in no time in my life have I been more discouraged by the two candidates the two major political parties are offering for our consideration.
It is times likes this I realize that as much as people would like it not to be so, I know I am not very good at this whole “party loyalty” thing. I am too much of a nonconformist for my own good. My parents would either be proud of that statement, or simply dismiss it with the often heard sentiment, “that is Jeff just being Jeff.” However, it still leaves me with my current dilemma, what will I do on Nov. 8?
For those who listen to my radio show or have heard me speak, you have caught me often making the following statement, “There is no such thing as a perfect candidate. The only person you will totally agree with on the issues that affect you is you alone.” But the real truth in that statement is that eventually even you will find yourself promoting a contradiction. Call it what you want, “flip-flop,” “evolving,” “change of heart,” whatever. Sooner or later, every one of us will find ourselves at odds with our own beliefs. However, far too many of us are willing to surrender our core principles or “put them aside,” even for a brief moment, to support an imperfect candidate.
Often this choice is made because of party loyalty. And therein is my current contradiction, knowing that candidates are imperfect, yet trying to decide how far am I willing to move away of my principles. I am not alone in this paradox, I am but one of many voters in a sea of lost souls, from every political spectrum. This is not the first time I have found myself in this spot, nor will it be the last. However, this time the integrity of my vote is facing its greatest challenge.
I have watched with interest over the past few months as many people who publicly declared they would never vote for either Trump or Hillary have done a complete 180. The #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary movements still exist, but only as a shadow of their former media-made glory. It is not that either of these groups are a mystery to me, but I have never belonged to either entity. The only thing I see that truly unifies either group is disdain for either one of these candidates. The disdain expressed is not easy to quantify with just one common element. However, disdain cannot be the driving force that stops us from voting, and the “lesser of two evils” is a sad motivation for such a solemn responsibility.
In debate after debate, I have expressed the simple truth that no matter who you vote for, or which party you support, if you walk into the voting booth and cast your vote with integrity, you are honoring the sacrifice of those who made that vote possible. Each of our votes comes with a cost, in fact a very steep price. Millions of Americans have fought and died for your right to cast that ballot. The entire weight of each and every one of those souls follows us into that voting booth; they are watching us. This is not a simple check on a piece of paper, or the click of a computer screen, but a gift afforded to us because of the sacrifice of others.
Millions of us do not look at this as a callous act, but as our sacred duty in remembrance of those who have struggled, and died, to make this a great country. That ballot is our hallowed bond, our proclamation that America is a great country, that the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are more than just pieces of paper. They are in fact our lifeline to liberty. The task before us is immense, and it is only our liberty that is at stake.
On Nov. 8, 2016, let each of us commit to casting our ballot with integrity. It is the very least we owe those who have forfeited so much to protect and preserve our Union.