Tuesday morning I marched into Morenci's City Hall excited to do my civic duty and cast my vote. I am proud to say that I have voted every year since I turned 18. This time, however, my excitement quickly turned to confusion and then embarrassment. It took me until I saw the ballot to realize that I had no idea who those people were or what they stood for.
In years past; I have taken the time to learn about the candidates in each race. I guess this time real life just got in the way. I work 6 days a week, I'm a father, a husband, but really those are excuses. This election will affect all of those things, and I'm here to say I messed up.
In my life I have encountered numerous people who have said that they don't vote, "Because one vote doesn't matter." I believe that this way of thinking is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If everyone who thought that way had voted for me to be Governor of this great state, I would have won in an absolute landslide. Unfortunately, my uneducated vote wasn't much better than those who didn't vote at all.
I do have firm beliefs, and those beliefs often cross party lines. It is a societal travesty in our politically-correct world that people are often afraid to speak openly about their values for fear of negative retribution. I am not ashamed to be pro-life, pro-gun, and against homosexual marriage. These views aren't held by everyone, and that is okay. I am entirely for our 1st amendment right to speak freely, and that means I am willing to fight for your right to disagree with me.
That being said, I am a machine operator and writer, but not a politician. The real intention of politicians is to represent the citizens’ values whether their office is in Morenci or in Congress. The reason for elections is so that we can elect the people that most closely share our beliefs. When I went to the polls on Tuesday; I didn't know who shared my values and who opposed them.
Generally speaking, I lean towards the conservative Republican side, and that is the way I voted when I didn't know the candidates in the race. When there were multiple Republicans, I guessed. Those guesses will affect the world my children grow up in. I'm not trying to be dramatic or even self-deprecating.
Joesph McCarthy won the Wisconsin U.S. Senate Election in 1946. He was a Republican who is infamous for causing the Second Red Scare, which directly led to the Cold War that could have easily escalated in to WWIII. I wonder how many people "guessed" on the Republican side in that election?
I was also completely ignorant to the wolf-related proposals. They were both voted down so we will never know the effect they would have had, but I voted yes on the first one. If it had been voted through, any negative consequences would have been (in an admittedly marginal way) my fault. I had no idea what the proposals were before I got there, so they could have been anything. I can't help but think of the compulsory (involuntary) sterilizations across the United States from 1907-1981.
You probably weren't taught about it in history class, but a young Adolf Hitler intensely studied American eugenics laws to create his idea of a perfect race. Twenty-seven States legalized the act of forcibly sterilizing men and women against their will in the United States to create a stronger race. All in all more than 60,000 Americans were essentially spayed and neutered like cats and dogs completely against their will. Most of them were because of their race or suspected mental illness—all of which was completely legal because it passed through voting. The moral of the story: Your votes are really, really important.
On November 4th of this year, I went to the polls completely ignorant. I cannot change that, but I can and will make absolutely sure that on November 3rd, 2015, I will be educated, and I will vote for the candidates who want the same things I do. One vote may not make or break an election, but all of those "one votes" do.
Don't be afraid to speak for the things you believe in, even if it means going against the grain. Perhaps if those who were quietly against the forced sterilizations had spoken up, we would have never endured the tragedies of Hitler's regime in World War II.