A letter to real decision-makers

By Dan Streib

Dear Reader,

At times, the election season must get kind of exhausting for you. Everyday, every hour, and every minute, some news outlet or some pundit has something “novel” to say about a candidate. One person says Hillary is more experienced. The next says Obama is more inspirational. They’ll both agree that McCain is the only leader among Republicans and that Romney’s the only true conservative among conservatives.

Despite my tendency to engage in these seemingly endless debates too, I do have some sympathy for you. I also get tired of all the talk. With that in mind, I’m willing to wager a bet that some of you are merely reading this column because its unusual format today caught your eye.

Yes, that may have been a little underhanded of me. Masked in the guise of a letter to you in order to capture your attention, I have written yet another column – but wait, don’t turn the page! This one’s different.

I’m not going to sit here the day before you cast your ballot and try to persuade you to vote in a certain primary for a certain candidate (I’ve already done that). I also promise not to try to persuade you of the importance of one specific issue over others (I’ve done that before, too). In fact, I won’t even go near the normal tit-for-tat election time discussion. Why?

It’s simple: tomorrow at the voting booth, regardless of what anyone has been arguing over all of these months, you will do something remarkable. You will end the debate.

It’s true. These political debates carried on by the candidates and the media do not go on forever, and you get to select the winners. Granted, a whole new realm of dialogue will be opened up once the parties select their nominees, but you’ll eventually end that debate, too.

The fact of the matter is, as much as you and I feel that our views get manipulated by politicians and pundits, these people can only go so far. As much as we feel that our voice does not make a difference in the face of these monopolizers of ideas, we get the last laugh.

You see, no matter how much everybody campaigns, talks, and writes columns, the voting booth is the great equalizer. Your vote counts just as much as anyone else’s. Although Bill Clinton has had a lot of media coverage, he votes in a booth somewhere the same as you and I. And once you fill out your ballot, it doesn’t matter what Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, Mr. New York Times journalist, or little ol’ me here at the Daily Illini says: you get the final decision. You conclude the discussion.

Yes, it’s true, there are a lot of people in this country. You’re just one vote of many. But whether you’re voting tomorrow or holding off until the general election, when others more partisan than you have already narrowed things down a bit, your vote matters in a way that the statistics do not and can not show.

How is that, you might ask? Well, this is your one time to stand up against those with whom you’ve always disagreed.

You may not have had the time to contact that Dan Streib in the Daily Illini and tell him what a jerk he is, and you may not have had the guts to inform friends and family how woefully mistaken you think they are. It’s OK. Tomorrow, you get to let it all out.

With the casting of a ballot, you, along with many other Americans, express your opinion to the only place it needs to go in this country: the vote counters and the history books.

By doing that, you also determine the direction the politicians and the media have to follow for the next few years. Then you vote again. So despite not having direct influence over what goes on in Washington, your opinion is expressed, heard, and even reacted to – even if those reactions aren’t always the ones you’d prefer. Of course, this is only true if you vote either now, in November, or at both elections.

So don’t be shy, and vote with confidence and pride. You have your ideals and a ballot – and that’s a pretty powerful combination.

Your columnist,

Dan

Dan is a sophomore in political science and confident that he’ll be reflecting on a perfect Patriot season by the time you read this column.