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Column: It's Not About Who Wins Or Loses, But Who Casts The Vote

This story was written by Eryk Salvaggio, The Maine Campus

I acknowledge that I will be relieved, for many reasons, when this election ends.

I am sympathetic to every side of this fight. I am tired of the word"maverick," and I am tired of mocking the same word. I am tired of BillAyres, Joe the Plumber, Lipstick, Pigs and ACORN. Most of all, I amtired of the idea that voting is a waste of time.

Maybe the voting booth is a place that has no real meaning. Perhapsyou have always been skeptical of people and you do not want to handover a piece of paper declaring that you believe in something. It'sunderstandable.

After all, we've been tossed into a mud-stained democracy run byblowhards and fools, many of whom condescendingly sneer if we expressan interest in an idea or a candidate they don't like. We've heardabout how so-and-so is a terrorist and so-and-so doesn't show up forany votes; how one side is embroiled in scandals and how the other sidehas no experience; how one is too religious or not religious enough, orthe wrong religion, or has the wrong kind of really amazing, powerful,empowering speeches.

My advice to you, skeptical voter, is one more layer of noise, butbear with me. I'm asking you to put the noise aside and vote, even ifyou don't believe that vote will count. I'm asking you to walk into themulti-purpose room on Tuesday, sign an affidavit if you haven'tregistered, and cast a vote. Just this once, just to see how it feels.

I am tired of hearing about how this generation always says it willvote, but doesn't. I am tired of being ignored by candidates becausethey don't think we'll make it to the polls. Let's face it, you'veprobably been late to class for worse reasons: hangovers, flirting,video games, boredom, hunger, who knows? Why not have a better excuse?

Maybe your guy loses, maybe your guy wins, but there are plenty ofreasons to believe that winning or losing doesn't matter. What mattersis mustering up an ounce of faith in a broader system, taking the riskof being wrong and taking the plunge toward the single inch of progressyou want for this world. You stake your claim and it's terrifying.

Voting, you see, is not just about politics. It's about working upthe courage to believe in something you want to believe in. It's themoment when you ask someone on a date even if you think you aren't coolenough. It's the moment when you raise your hand in a class to give ananswer you kind of, maybe, think you know. It's not the vote thatmatters, it's the risk you take when you cast it: that you might bewrong, certainly; that it might break your heart if he wins, andbecomes just another politician, the kind of guy who made you not wantto vote in the first place. I believe the courage of asking for animpossible kind of dream is more important than the pleasure of gettingit.

You can decide if that's reason enough to vote. But to not vote isto say no to possibility, and yes to whatever you get stuck with. Sure,if you vote, you might not make it to that boring class on time, orhave time to read the next article and eat your lousy sandwich. You canresign yourself to fate, or you can design your own. You don't need totell anyone you voted, or who you voted for. You can have a secretmoment where you said yes to your rightful stake in the world, whereyou let yourself become the type of person who has ideals and takesaction to make them come to fruition.

The ballot doesn't care if you aren't cool, or if you have all theanswers. It just wants to know one thing: Who are you voting for?

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