Don't Forget to Vote!

To everyone who says all politicians are liars, that no one's vote actually matters anyway, that there's no point in voting until there is a candidate truly representing our best interests... this is a message urging you to vote.

I'll be the first to agree that neither presidential front-runner fits in line with the stuff I'm 100-percent sure needs to be dealt with (read: ENVIRONMENT, GLOBAL WARMING, ALTERNATIVE ENERGY, SUSTAINABILITY!!!!). But I can't pretend Romney and Obama are the same, either. From their stances on women's health to gay marriage to basic environmental policy, I see some distinct differences. But they're not the only people running, either.

  • Green Party candidate Jill Stein wants to raise the minimum wage, renegotiate NAFTA and other "free trade'' agreements that export American jobs, directly address climate change, and enact a "Green New Deal" that she says would move America quickly out of crisis into a secure, green future.
  • Libertarian Gary Johnson wants to do away with most federal spending,  cut down on nation-building abroad, and has this to say about environmental and energy policy: "We must have laws and regulations to protect Americans from environmental harm. However, the government should stay out of the business of trying to promote or “manage” energy development. The marketplace will meet our energy needs in the most economical and efficient manner possible – if government will stay out of the way." Like his small-government, hands-off approach? Then get this: If he can score 5 percent of the vote, it will allow Libertarian candidates in the future equal ballot access and federal funding as Republicans and Democrats.
National politics got you down? Then get in your polling place to give voice to local candidates, who will certainly affect how things operate in your city, town, and county.

Feel like the electoral college is unfair, that the system is stacked against you, that you're making a statement by staying home? Think again. Whether you write in "None of the Above", vote only for local officials, or give a vote to a smaller-party candidate like Green or Libertarian, you are making a wave. Our system's not perfect, but it's ours—and it isn't going to change if we all turn apathetic.

Borrowing from a list published yesterday on Huffington Post, here are reasons I will vote.
  • I will vote because I can. In 1912, just one hundred years ago, women were not allowed to vote, which meant my grandmothers did not have the option as young women. They would be angry with me not to.

  • I will vote because I've been given a voice. I will use it. We all complain when we are not heard. A vote is our chance to exercise that voice.

  • I will vote because my vote does count. And so does yours. And the next person and the next. Collectively, we make a difference.

  • I will vote because apathy is not an attractive quality. Thinking my vote will not make a difference is a cop out. It does and it will.

  • I will vote for all of our daughters, nieces, sisters and every generation to come. As the Dalai Lama has said, it is Western Women who will heal the world. That can't happen with people in power who want to set women back fifty years and suggest placing an aspirin between one's knees is an effective method of contraception.
Let's remember too the cautionary tale of Florida; and keep in mind that every vote really does matter. Need to find out where to go? Click here to enter your address and receive your polling location.


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.