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Voting : Your Constitutional Right and Responsibility

Updated on March 15, 2016

Past Memories Shape who We Are

Nine months from now we, the people, will elect our next President for these United States. But we are far from united, aren't we? In fact, we are more divided than at any other time in my lifetime and I have entered my sixth decade here on this earth. I am old enough to remember when segregation ended and the first African American child was tossed into my class of middle class white kids. I remember how she was taunted and teased and how embarrassed I was for the behavior of my classmates. I cried when they tossed the "black girl" in the closet and blocked the door so that she would be late for class. I wondered if things would have been different if she had been "African American" or, simply "Melissa". Even at such an early age, I knew the difference between right and wrong and this just felt all wrong.

In the third grade, a new family moved to our community and I was quick to notice that they were different. They were not white nor African American. Their skin was berry brown and their eyes dark and haunting. One of the boys was in my class but he was never accepted. They called him a "mixed blood" or "mulatto", both hurtful names at that point in time. We shared a classroom until the seventh grade when he simply vanished. No one knew what happened and they sure didn't talk about it. Forty years passed before I ran into this boy again and discovered that he was a Monacan Indian and his family moved because they were never welcomed into the community. I always wondered if it would have been different if he had just been "Native American" or better yet, just "Jeremy".

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”

― Toni Morrison, Beloved

Labels and the Current Political Climate

Let's fast forward from my youth to the election of a President that we are facing in just nine months. This is the most important election of my lifetime. The decisions we make in the next few months will determine our future.. That's a serious responsibility, don't you think?

Look where we are though. Our system allows us to choose three candidates; one from the Republican Party, one from the Democratic Party, and one Independent or Third Party candidate. In the past few weeks, we have all watched the Republican Party implode on itself. It all started with fourteen candidates seeking the nomination of the Republican National Committee. We are down to four. As of today, three of them are angry white men and one is a moderate who is ignored by mainstream media and considered a lost cause. On the Democratic side, we have an educated, experienced white woman with a cloud of suspicion hanging over her head and elder Jewish white guy who is a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist. Did you notice all the labels I used?

Labels and the Media

I wonder how you felt reading my prior paragraph when I used all those labels. Hopefully you felt the same things I feel when I listen to mainstream media brainwash us with the use of labels. They are good at it and it does influence the decisions we make. You see, most of us don't invest ourselves in learning the truth about the candidates. We trust mainstream media to tell us who they are and what they stand for. If we really paid attention though, we would see that mainstream media throws labels around like most throw rice at a wedding. Don't you wonder why? Follow the money!

Your Responsibility to Look Past the Labels

You have a constitutional right to vote. I've heard dozens of my friends throw that statement around on the heels of "it is my constitutional right to carry a gun". They are right. But, both of those constitutional rights also carry a responsibility. I'll leave the gun rights for another day.

As a citizen of the United States you have a constitutional right to vote. in order to vote, it is your responsibility to be informed; to make an informed decision about the candidate you want to support. It is your responsibility to watch the debates and the town hall meetings. It is your responsibility to look into the backgrounds of the candidates.


Candidates with a Senate history are easy to study. It is your responsibility to know how they voted and if they showed up to vote. Senate records are public records because we, the people, have a right to know. If you don't like government web sites, go to YouTube and search their name. Many of their speeches from the Senate floor are available and some are entertaining. Have you forgotten that they work for you and that it is your responsibility to tell them what you expect? Most of us forget about them after an election but they were elected by us, to serve us. You can complain to your friends but if you want something done, you have to tell the people you elected.


Were they a governor? What did they do for their state? Are they respected or dismissed as a miserable failure? The internet is your friend here. Visit newspapers web sites from the state and scan the headlines. Google their name and see what pops up. It is your responsibility to know who they are.

Private Sector Candidate

These guys are a bit more challenging to study but with increasing access to public records it is getting easier. It is y our responsibility to know what issues they care about and how involved they have been. Dig into their financials through internet search engines. Know what they own and what they have supported in the past. It's your responsibility.

Get out and vote!

Stop. Look. Listen.

These were things we were taught as a child to keep us safe. Those same principles can be applied to electing our next President.

Stop listening to mainstream media commentators. Stop letting their rhetoric fuel your anger. Stop being brainwashed.

Look at the candidates web page. Look at the policies and plans they have outlined. Look how the candidate treats their spouse or children in a crowd. Look at how they treat other candidates. Then, look at your children or grandchildren and ask yourself what kind of future you want for them.

Listen to the candidates. Hear what they are saying. Is it the same in every speech or does it change depending on the crowd? Listen to what they say in an interview and compare it to what they say on the campaign trail. Listen with both your brain and your heart.

Labels Revisited

Just in case I haven't made my message clear, I will say it again - I do not like labels. However, I am putting my support behind an elderly, Jewish, white guy. My reasons are simple. I've done my homework. I've stopped listening to mainstream media tell me he can't win. I've looked at his policies and plans on his web site and his Senate voting record on line. And finally, I've looked at the man and seen how he treats his wife. I've watched him defend the dwindling middle class, the "All Lives Matter" movement, the environment, and Native Americans.

Remove the Labels and My Choice Is The Same

Without the labels, my reasons for supporting him are clear They have nothing to with age, race, or religion. They are based on a proven track record, shared values, and a level of integrity that I have not seen in any other candidate. I'll give you a partial list of reasons he has earned my support. Maybe you will recognize this guy and vote for him too

  • When asked what kind of car he drove his response was "a red one".
  • His religion is founded on "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
  • He cares about the future he will leave to his grandchildren.
  • He cares about our environment and promotes preservation and conservation.
  • He doesn't care what color your skin is. He believes you deserve to earn a living wage if you work 40 hours a week.
  • He doesn't believe that seniors should have to decide between food or medicine.
  • He was willing to go to jail for fighting for civil rights.
  • He wants to close the revolving door on prisons that incarcerate non-violent young men at an alarming rate simply because they are poor or black.
  • He sees war as a last resort
  • He has a clean energy strategy that will free us of our dependence on foreign oil.
  • He is not vulgar or hostile and he is not a narcissist .
  • Bernie cannot be bought by corporate money, big banks, or Super PACs.

There are many other reasons I am a supporter of this guy but to share them, I would have to make negative statements about other candidates. But like this guy I choose to take the high road. I trust that you are smart enough to make your own informed decisions. You have the tools. You have the right. And, you have the responsibility. Choose wisely because both our futures depend on it.

© 2016 Linda Crist


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