The most important thing that you can do as a citizen of the United States is vote. In Alaska, today is the primary election day. Vote. It is your say about who writes the laws that rule how you live and who lays the foundation for your future and that of your children. In Alaska, we have some hotly contested races. While my own Examiner page only covers Jay Ramras, this is not because I only support him—I also like his opponent, Mead Treadwell and their democratic opponent, Diane Benson. (Until several emergencies came up, my intent had been to cover all of the major candidates.) What is nice with the governor lite candidates is that whichever one wins, Alaska wins. I believe that three of Alaska's finest people are running in that race. I don't have time to go over who else is running in the other races-- I like some a lot more than I like others, so I will cover the people who make it out of the primaries over the next six weeks.
When I was in high school, my debate coach had a small party in her class room for the 18 year olds who voted for the first time. I think that either she or one of the parents would bring in a cake for both the national elections in November and the city-wide elections in March. While Ms. Russell taught geometry and debate, I think her greatest lesson to us was that she drummed into us the importance of voting. She leaned very Democrat, and she loved hippos. In retrospect, the fact that she was a Democrat and most of her class (that I was in) was full of Alex Keaton wanna-bees made a bigger impact on us, or at least on me. Time after time, the Republicans got elected, and she would tell us, “They still represent me and I still have a voice.” She taught us the importance of writing intelligent letters to lawmakers with issues that mattered to us, not because we were young people, but because they had a direct effect on our lives. She taught us to be civil when the other person was obviously out of their minds or just plain selfish because it reflects back on us.
Ms. Russell's love of hippos was legendary. Do you align yourself with the elephants, the donkeys or the bears? (Does the Tea Party with their "Momma Grizzlies" realize that the bear has been the personification of Russia since the 17th century? Whether I like the Tea Party or not, my stomach churns whenever the reference is made of my fellow Americans being bears of any sort. Has everyone forgotten the Cold War? The bear was a threat and not a good one!) In honor of my former debate coach, I am part of the Hippo Party. Hippos are thick skinned and just want to have a good time with everyone; they just want everyone to vote no matter what their persuassion is and they want everyone to know that their opinions count. Everyone is welcome as long as they are respectful to each other.
I think I have only missed two elections since I turned 18 and the sense of guilt that I had lasted for weeks, and I wasn't even raised Catholic. In Alaska, we have some close elections. Our elections are also closed for the Republicans because we are a Republican dominated state. In a strategy that only readers can decide upon it being good, bad, or brilliant, is that the Democratic party was trying to topple this leadership by voting in the weakest Republican in the primaries so that they could get certain candidates in office, and they had succeeded enough that now the primaries are closed if you want a Republican ballot. If you choose to vote Republican, you must be registered as either Republican, undecided or non-partisan.
Steve at What Do I Know has some great advice on voting on the propositions. They get a little confusing at times and Steve is a light in a dark tunnel.
Honk at the sign wavers, even if you don’t agree with them. Give them a full hand wave and smile. Plan in the upcoming general election to wave signs at least once. It’s the “funnest” part of the election. Write to your candidates that don’t win and wish them well and tell them that you hope they run again. It’s devastating to lose an election as most of the time, they have invested a lot of their own money and put hours of their life into it. Let them know what they did right. If your person wins and their opponent lost but the campaign was clean, also write them a note of happiness and thank them for running a clean campaign.