It’s my 18 year-olds first election and we’re going over the fundamentals of voting.

 

First, think about where you stand on the important issues: gun control, the environment, women’s rights, immigration, the economy, and whatever issues are important to you. Then go through the ballot looking at where candidates stand and if their views are your views. Next, see whether you agree or disagree with the propositions.

 

Are Gavin’s stances your stances or do you agree more with John Cox? Do you believe farm animals should live in bigger enclosures? Should we get rid of daylight savings time? Does it matter? Are you willing to pay a little more for gas if it means improved roads?

 

Second, if you don’t understand or know about an issue- research, debate, think and learn. Not sure where you stand on immigration? Fine, ask your friends, read about the caravan, look at what people are saying. Do this last one in moderation of course because since everyone has a platform, everyone is an expert, and everyone is notan expert. Think deeper about the issue, the history and economics of immigration, and ultimately come to a decision that works for you.

 

Third, remember there is no wrong when voting except not voting. Accept that people have different opinions than you and that’s what makes the country a balanced place (this is the democracy theory any way). Know that your opinion is the right opinion but accept that you are just one voice in a giant chorus of American voices.

 

It’s an exciting time to be a part of our democracy and by exciting I mean scary as hell. I certainly cannot remember a more polarized and angry period in history when so many people were completely unwilling to even think about other people’s views. And because hate is winning, the crazies are empowered to the point of sending pipe bombs in the mail. Yikes.

 

But, knowing where you stand is healthy. Are you OK with how the administration is handling climate change because the economy hasn’t tanked yet? Do you believe it is OK that the Saudis killed a US reporter because they purchase billions in military hardware from Boeing? Should we ever put profits over people?

 

Also, how important is it that you’ve grown up in a liberal state with a Socialist father (Humanist? Agnostic Pantheist? Whatever, I hate the labels)?

 

After 18 years you are well aware of my biases so I won’t get into the specifics of this election but if we’re going to fix this very dysfunctional democracy we have to start with the fundamental idea that we are what we have created.

 

We have Obama-Entitlement-Brain after 8 years of bridge building and acceptance of all people. And now we have to work to learn why some people prefer walls to bridges and separation over acceptance. We have to try and understand what the other team is thinking before we can work to change it (the real answer being that we are all on the same team). No, it’s not easy to change this mindset but the more we get involved and learn and debate and compromise, the better things will get.

 

But we’re running out of time. Hate breeds hate, bullies create dangerous environments and in the next week you will be bombarded with the dirtiest array of political ads ever. Ads that used to be about what politicians will do but are now mostly about what political opponents have done. This might be the perfect week for a media vacation.

 

Just make sure you get to the polls on November 6.

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