Early voting began this week in Maryland.
I am not going to just tell you to go vote. That is not what voting is about. Don't vote because someone is pressuring you to do it. Don't vote because someone says "you need to."
Don't listen to those who say "you need to vote for [insert name] because we need to fight back against [Insert "Trump" or "Larry Hogan" or "Kirby Delauter"]." And if you think that this type of request/demand is sorta condescending, you're probably right...as it supposes you are unable to make up your own mind.
Vote because you want to. Vote because you like the idea that you do have a voice, however small it may be seem a single voter. Vote because that small voice looms large when combined with those who vote for the same candidate(s) you do.
Voting is a powerful personal act. Don't let anyone take any of that act away from you. I can't name the feeling I get when I look up candidate platforms, meet candidates at events, and then decide how to cast my vote. But it feels pretty amazing and I want others to feel that way too.
If you're NOT political, but are interested in the idea of voting, there has never been a better time from a two-party political system standpoint to find where you likely fit in according to your values...as our two primary political parties are quite different.
I implore you to learn more about the Democratic Party Platform, and the Republican Party Platform, but if you want extra credit, you're going to have to search the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and [insert other party with strikingly low traction in political polls here] on your own via Google.
There is more to political values than simply picking a Party - capital 'P'. I am not 100% comfortable saying "I am a Democrat." I am; however, a "liberal" and a "progressive" - which have different meanings to different people. And one thing that Democrats are historically bad at doing is solidifying on a message that fully encapsulates the spectrum from FAR left to the center. But that doesn't change the fact that my values align with the Democratic Party's values...the Party is just bad at spelling out why their values are just and righteous.
Basically, we're pretty bad at "proselytizing" or "evangelizing" why we're "Democrats."
I know why *I* am a liberal/progressive. And those reasons are mostly covered in the Democratic Party Platform linked above. I believe in inclusivity. I want to live in a Maryland, an America, and a World where all individuals, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or socioeconomic status not only have the same opportunities as everyone else, but also where we work hard to help these individuals when, despite existing policies in place to level the playing field, these individuals are still struggling to get up to par. I was raised in a place where neighbors helped one another. And we still accept and welcome differences regarding what religious building they go to, what color their skin is, who they are shacking up with, or how much money is in their pockets.
Love your neighbor. Help your neighbor. Be selfless. Be humble. Show empathy, always.
If you read the Democratic Party Platform, I believe you will see these same values spelled out.
I just wish the Party was better at articulating why a world where Democrats' values are widespread is a world that is good for most everyone. Of course, it would be impossible for that world to be good to everyone full stop, because life happens in bell curves, and some folk have to live on the lower tail of the distribution. I would like to see a world where the lower tail is the place where selfishness, hatred, bigotry, greediness, and fear live.
If you vote, I suggest you make your vote about FOR and not AGAINST. I am wary of candidates whose message is "anti-" the incumbent. I don't believe that is forward-thinking. This is a major issue I have with our current President. Most of his 'achievements' to date has simply been rolling back Obama Administration policies. This isn't policy formation. It is policy regression. I like candidates who pledge to create policy to best fit the current world around us in an attempt to move it forward (policy progression; hence my being a 'progressive'), not use policy as a lever to create a bygone world (i.e., MAGA).
Those candidates who see the current world and culture and are suggesting policy to fit this world and move it forward DO exist. Several are running for seats in our current election. I hope some of the ones I am voting for make it to the general election ballot.
I've decided on about 90% of the candidates I will be voting for in the Maryland Primary. And given my voting history, a good number are likely to lose their primary race. But I firmly believe that s/he who ultimately gets the nomination from the collective Party voice will embody the overall Party values.
I believe it is important to keep our focus on this point.
Remember, we're voting on a set of values and ideals for Maryland and for America...not the person who is promising them. I'll reiterate: This is not just about the person running for the office, it is about the values and ideals, likely shared by every candidate running for the seat, that we want to see in our state and our country.
Actually, I think Matt Santos says it better:
If you are planning to vote, either starting today, or any day between now and the June 26th Primary Election Day, I hope you find all the information and confidence you seek in order to make solid decisions on your candidates. If you need more information, see below.
As noted above, vote because you want to, and vote for those who most share your ideals, hopes, and values.
The Maryland State Board of Elections has a wealth of information for voters, including a search tool to see if you are registered to vote and sample ballots for your county/congressional district. Similarly, the Frederick County Board of Elections has much more nuanced information for county-wide races.