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Is It Time To Start Keeping Our Vote To Ourselves?

by John Smiddy, published

Concerns of the heart. Our country is divided. It's been divided before but this time, it's scary.

I was 8 years old the first time I asked my dad the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. His answer was something like, "Democrats are idiots and Republicans are real leaders." I was so confused by the whole political thing. To this day, it baffles me how people can stand on one side of the fence, behind a party accusing the other party of the same things they are guilty of doing. It's the ultimate game of point the finger.

We get so caught up in defending our parties that we lose friends, stop visiting family members, or don't attend social events. The parties love this! They want us to talk about how we vote, where we stand, and so on. It's free advertising. You are out doing their dirty work. Promoting them and even better, you're working for free! You are willing to sacrifice your friendships and family for the machine for FREE. They love it.

There was a time when you didn't talk about how you voted. That wasn't classy. It was like asking someone about personal finances. People weren't shouting 'Lib-tard" or "Tea-bagger" across the aisle at each other.

Fast forward to 2016. We have social media. I love Facebook, but there is a level of etiquette that a lot of Americans do not either know or care about on Facebook. Instead of sharing fun pictures and status updates, they are more interested in forcing their beliefs and trolling for arguments with people who see things differently.

On top of that, there are underground news sources popping up every day. These types of news sites don't have to be accountable for their reporting the same way larger media companies are. They create stories based on shock value that is merely clickbait to sell advertisements. Some Americans will believe these stories without doing even the most basic research before sharing and will further spread a piece of journalism that could breed more fear and division.

We all need to vote. This country has sacrificed many lives since its conception to protect our freedoms to not only vote, but to vote how we see fit for our nation, our families, and our businesses. When you impose your beliefs of who should be president on someone else and challenge them or try to shame them you are imposing on their right to vote freely on who they feel is the best fit for their situation and the country.

Maybe it's time to step back America.

A friend of mine from Europe once asked me why Americans feel so threatened by each other's opinions? He said, "In Europe, you have an opinion, you might voice it in a discussion. You are not trying to force it on anyone, and no one takes it that way. It's simply YOUR opinion. Others in the same conversation have different opinions, but everyone excepts it as that person's opinion. Here in the states, everyone believes you should be of their same opinion, and they will fight you over it! It's crazy."

My conclusion: this election year do your homework. Research all candidates and choose the one that best suits your beliefs for what is right for your country and your family. Then go to the polls and vote. No need to make a scene about how you voted on social media. Understand others will vote differently, and that's ok! We are all different, and that's what makes us beautiful. Only bad can come of continuing to divide each other. With all that is going on in our country and abroad, find a way to unite, find a way to agree on SOMETHING with that family member who hates your political views. We will be a better country because of it.

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