Ok, so when was the last time you voted in an election? November 7, 2000? Don’t remember? Never?
The first duty of a citizen is to vote. This is the simplest thing you can do, and the most basic act of participation you can be involved in. It also takes very little time.
In church, we are told to pray. That this is one of the most basic acts we can perform to remain in spiritual tune with our Heavenly Father. Whenever something goes wrong, or we feel out of touch with the Spirit, one of the first questions we are asked by the Bishop, or our Home or Visiting Teachers (or our spouse) is, “did you pray about it”.
Voting is to the health of our Nation as praying is to the health of our spirit. And yet, year after year participation in the electoral process in this, the world’s greatest democratic republic continues to slide. Here in the United States, we are blessed with the ability to choose our leaders, something many in this world cannot do, and yet many of us choose instead to do something else on election day, rather than take the time to carry out this one important civic duty. Would you rely on someone you have never even met to offer prayers for your spiritual salvation and hope they get it right? Would you spend your days, in the depths of depression, desperately hoping that someone, perhaps some Government agency, would offer up that one key prayer that would put you back in touch with the Spirit? Of course not. Yet many of us play this form of “Russian Roulette” with our temporal lives, relying on others to make the choices, while we then complain about the results.
So, in terms of how you can make a difference, the very first thing you can do is vote. That seems easy enough. Elections are only once every four years. Hey, this “civic responsibility” thing isn’t so difficult after all! But wait. That’s presidential elections. What about the ones that take place in between? Every two years we elect the entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate. That’s pretty important too. OK, so every two years. Still not to onerous. But aren’t you interested in what your State politicians are up to? How about the County, City, and those School Board elections. Do you have kids in school? Are you interested in whether your house payment or rent will go up because of the school bond election next week? Don't you want to know what they will be spending your hard-earned money on if it passes?
And how will you know whom or what to vote for or against? Will you just go out and pull the Republican lever because you are a Republican? Will you vote straight Democratic ticket because your father and his father’s father before him were Democrats, therefore you must be one too? Chances are, if you are a member of the Church and are reading this outside of certain areas in the western United States, you are a convert. How did you become a convert? Did you just up and decide one day “gee, I think I’ll be come a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”? Of course not. You studied, pondered, and prayed. You read the scriptures. This was, after all, an important decision. In some cases, you may even have faced alienation from friends and family.
The same is true for voting. It isn’t enough just to pull a lever, punch a hole, or fill in a circle. You need to be aware of the issues. You need to know what a politician stands for and how they are likely to behave once in office. You need to base your decision on facts, not feelings or “brand loyalty”. This “civic responsibility” thing is sounding like more work all the time, isn’t it? But then again, nothing really worth having ever simply falls from the sky without effort. And isn’t your freedom, your life, and the pursuit of happiness worth expending some effort on? Not only for yourself, but for your children as well?
The last line of the Declaration of Independence reads: “And for support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”. This they signed, this they did. And because they did they secured the blessings of Liberty for themselves and their posterity. We are that posterity. It incumbent upon us to carry the torch forward, to secure those blessings for ourselves and our posterity. Our “weapon” in this battle is our vote. A single rifle among an army may seem of little import, yet an army is made up of many single rifles. So is an election won by many individual votes. And just as a single rifle can decide the outcome of a battle, so can a single vote decide the outcome of an election. Your vote is an expression of your will. It does count. Don’t ever let anyone tell you it does not.