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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


Submit a Comment
  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Paula, you are a wise woman. I spend a portion of every day reading (using zoom and text to speech software) what I can find on AMD. I have never lost hope. Atrial fib is a monster and I am so happy you found something to help you. My mother lives with it so I will mention it to her physician. At her age, it may not be a viable option but one never knows. I do hope you have had some success with your son's issue. Thanks for the encouragement. We gals have to lift each other up. Hugs to you.

  • fpherj48 profile image


    2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Linda....Don't ever stop searching and researching. Keep your radar up for new and inventive cures for various health issues. No matter what, keep in mind that medical science advances every single day!

    I have been like a mad woman, digging for all that I can possibly learn about "Meniere's Disease" (an inner ear problem) for my son who suffers with it. It too has been declared incurable with merely meds,etc to attempt to control the awful symptoms.

    I say all this because I spent 30 years of unrelenting research to find a solution for my issue with chronic Atrial Fibrilation (I have a severe case). Tests, imaging, medications, procedures, one Dr. after another. FINALLY, I tried something very simple, right under my nose, a supplement readily available to all of us...."Magnesium." I played with the dosage and timing, etc...I actually am able to control the frequency & level of arrhythmia for the first time in all these years. I proved it to my PCP & cardiologist who are both very impressed.....but can't explain it.

    When you find something that one HAS to explain it!!

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Miz B - you are a hoot. You have made some points in your comment that give me pause. I have chosen Bernie as the lesser of the evils and, because I think that what you see is what you get. I do not trust any of the others. I do think that his goals are lofty and many are probably impossible to obtain. Even though I have paused, I still do not see another option. Oh well.

    I did get your email and sent you a response last night. If you did not get it, let me know. I'll reserve my personal comments until I hear from you. Thanks for stopping by. I'll be reading your groundhog story in the next hour. Can't wait!

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James-MizBejabbers 

    2 years ago from Beautiful South

    Good to see another great hub from you, Linda. I’ve missed you and hope all is going well with you, dear friend. I’m so sorry to hear that your vision hasn’t improved. I sent you an email yesterday through HP. Hope you get it.

    Your Jimmy story reminded me that when I was the 6th grade, a brown boy (really cute) enrolled in our segregated school. He was introduced to the class, and the teacher said, “He’s from Oklahoma and he’s an Indian.” We were fascinated with him and he became very popular. Come to find out, he was the first cousin of another dark-complected boy in our class. We never questioned the cousin’s origins and he had been my “boyfriend” all through 6th grade. The boys’ mothers were sisters, one claimed her heritage and the other successfully assimilated.

    Voting is every adult’s responsibility, however, this election year promises to be one of the worst. At least the candidates are calling each other names and the potential voters are so busy watching the dog and pony show that they are forgetting to email around those trite propaganda pieces we got during the last presidential election. Pardon me for being flippant, dear friend, but I work in the field of politics and I get so disgusted I could throw up – right here at work. Some of the voters are as childish as the candidates.

    I think that in some ways it doesn’t matter where a candidate has been. Unless he or she is a convicted felon, forget the past and study what he or she plans to do for this country’s future. Then elect the person you think most qualified. Just because someone is new on the scene and isn’t part of the establishment is no reason to try to get him elected. Sometimes experience is the best quality. Would you rather have a brain surgeon with 20 years experience or one just entering a residency to operate on your brain? I personally think all politicians should start at the bottom and work their way up just like those of us who aren’t born with a silver spoon in our mouth have to do (or in George Bush’s case, a silver foot). Term limits in my state have proved that the newbie is just as corrupt and 10 times faster at accomplishing it because he knows he won’t be there long enough to establish a machine. Therefore he is more creative and more vulnerable to the lobbyists.

    I like Bernie’s message, but I believe that Bernie is being unrealistic as to getting Wall Street to pay for his grandiose ideas, good as they may be. Trump will get us into a war within six months. Besides, I can’t support a Republican because of their attitude that women are second class citizens, and that shockingly includes Carly Fiorina. I don’t like Hillary’s (or Bernie’s) stand on immigration because I think they are throwing caution to the winds and their policies would allow terrorists in with those deserving refuge. So there’s nobody left for me to vote for. I guess I’ll just have to pick from the lesser of the evils. Maybe Mickey Mouse, no Minnie would be a better choice.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Paula, you are such a sweetheart. I had to respond to your last comment. First, I was diagnosed with macular degeneration about six years ago. it was bad when we found it and has progressed rapidly. Mine is the dry kind and there is currently no treatment or cure. Some studies believe that a vitamin formula can slow it down but it did not work for me. I am FINE. I am learning new ways to do things. Some are still challenges but I will get there. When I lost my ability to drive, I hit a low spot. I am so freaking independent. lol But,, I am even learning to cope with that. People are good, for the most part. You really find out who your real friends are when you need them the most. Something tells me you have already learned that lesson. Anyway, I appreciate that you care and yes indeed our HP friends are real friends. They are also real treasures.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    2 years ago from Central Virginia

    bradmasterOCcal, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I agree with many of the points you have made. I also think that we, as voters, should shoulder some responsibility. We elect them and forget them. They need to be held accountable on a legislative level but most of us can't look up from our cell phones long enough to do that. What a mess.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Watergeek, thanks for the great comment. I too have waited and dreamed of the day when a woman was elected to our highest office. I suspected it would be Hiliary. However, I have to admit that there is a gray cloud of mistrust that surrounds her and I cannot get past it. Bernie isn't perfect either and I think a lot of people are missing his message. He is asking for a revolution; for people (us) to start standing up. I know that he is right but do I think it will happen? No! I do think he can be effective working both sides of the isle and I trust him. That is huge for me at this point in time. Time will tell, won't it?

  • watergeek profile image


    2 years ago from Pasadena CA

    Great article, Linda! I love how you warmed up to it with experiences of your own, especially related to ostracization of classmates (which reminds me of Trump). I, too, believe this election is crucial and that it's our responsibility to check up on the candidates.

    It's also our responsibility to know where we stand in the first place, so we recognize a match with the candidates when we read or hear about them. Too many people in the past have voted party lines, partly because in the past there was so much gratuity involved. Like you could get certain jobs because you were a Democrat and the labor bosses held the keys, and vice versa for Republicans. But that was long ago and that kind of loyalty may be inappropriate these days.

    I've wanted to elect a female president for a long time. But the candidate I resonated with from the beginning was Bernie Sanders. And the more I find out about him, the stronger that connection has become. His stance on war and the environment were the two that attracted me first. His integrity, proven by his voting record, attracts me strongly - I know I can trust him to follow through. His positive, constructive approach to campaigning tells me he's a good guy who doesn't go around bashing opponents. I can see why Congresspeople of all parties like to work with him.

    He also practices holistic healing, did you know that? Which translates into good health for all, not just medical attention. He wants to rebuild the middle class, which is crucial to a healthy economy, including working class people (which is how he's able to run on donations, free of corporate control). And he includes everyone, not just white males. All of these things he already knows how to do. There's more, but this is enough and much, much more than any other candidate offers, in my opinion.

  • bradmasterOCcal profile image

    Brad Masters 

    2 years ago from Orange County California BSIT BSL JD

    My view is that party loyalty needs to be abandoned.

    It took both parties working against each other to put the country into a continual decline from the 70s, and causing the economy to implode in 2008, and the declines continues today.

    The root cause of this decline, in my opinion is the loyal party voter, followed by the two divergent parties. Neither party has had any solutions but they both contribute to the problems.

    I spent last year with eye problems and I tried everything to see the screen better. It was very difficult and I understand your frustration.

    I wish that somehow things will get better. You have a better chance than the country.

    Take care.

  • fpherj48 profile image


    2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Linda...It is quite upsetting to me to hear of your sight issue. 70%? I am not going to pry, honey, but please know my thoughts of wellness are with you. I do hope this is as bad as it will get.

    I must say that this has been a year for unpleasant news. I realize the more years we are fellow writers on HP, the more our lives change and the more we learn what goes on in our private lives~~cyber friends are not unlike our real life friends at all.

    My best to you always. You are a courageous lady & trust you deal with this as best as possible.......Bless you, Paula

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    2 years ago from Central Virginia

    {{{{{Paulla}}}}}}.....So good to hear from you. Where have I been? Well, I've been licking my wounds and having a pity party. I've lost 70% of my eyesight and it makes writing so hard and proofreading almost impossible. I'm trying to find ways around it but gosh it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. How the heck are ya?

    This election cycle is driving me nuts. I've made up my mind but it was easy for me with one and only one candidate that seemed to be "real" to me. To each his own though.

    So, not my best work but the thoughts were screaming and scratching to get out. I'll strive for perfection another time. Thanks for giving me a yell. Hope things are good with you. Hugs!!!

  • fpherj48 profile image


    2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Hey you!~Good to see you again! I won't ask where you've been because 1st of all, it's none of my business LOL & 2nd....Then I'd have to tell u where I'VE been!!

    I like your attitude, especially about the importance of taking RESPONSIBILITY for knowing as much as possible about each & every candidate. I TOO hate labels~~am registered "Independent" for that reason. I will NOT place myself into any corner of any sort.

    This campaign has been....shall we say.....interesting? Nah, probably not. It's been more frustrating and embarrassing than anything else. Frankly girlfriend I have not made a firm decision & I don't know when I will.

    Thanks for the great read! You do nice work! Peace, Paula

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Kindred, you don't miss a thing, do ya? Even when I've vanished for months on end, you are one of the very first to weigh in on my hubs. I'm so rusty and even though I kno0w this is not my finest work, I'm just so worked up over this campaign circus that I had to vent a bit. And yes, I held back a lot. I'm trying so hard to see the faults in the process and not get obsessed with the character faults of the players. I know you understand and probably share my observations down to the letter. Writing has become quite difficult due to the low vision but I am going to try and overcome that. I know I can. Now, if I can only find my creative side again. So good to hear from you and now, I bid you a "see you later" and a hug!

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eric, you too made some excellent points that I had not thought about. I have long ago accepted that the world doesn't always agree with me. I try to be open to hearing arguments and considering facts. I don't always do that as well as I would like. Thanks for adding depth to the discussion. It's always good to hear from you.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    2 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Good to see a new article from you, Kindred. It's going to be a fascinating general election. Labels....I'm so tired of them, Kindred. With the exception of Trump, I've managed to refrain from any name-calling. I have friends who are Conservatives...they're still friends. We agree to disagree and move on with life.

    I get worked up just thinking about labels....great article, my friend. Hugs coming atcha.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    You make an excellent couple of points. My vote goes for the riotous years of desegregation and Vietnam. But the fact we discuss it says a whole lot.

    I think media makes more out of our divisiveness than is reality. Interesting that Bernie and Donald basically share views on funding of politicians and healthcare. Sure some differences, but nothing a compromise could not fix. Sure one is rich and the other a government employee representative, but they are similar in that they are both running for the presidency. One is boisterous and one is understated, but they both a running campaigns against Hillary. So even between these two at the far ends of the spectrum -- we are not completely divided.


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