Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I vote

I had dinner over the weekend with a friend of mine who said that the person who is elected the next President of the United States will not be able to do anything to help our problems. He thinks we're too far in trouble to be helped. In fairness, this friend is infamous for stating his opinion as fact (borrowing a phrase from my pal, Kelly) and he's not American. He's also facing a lay-off by his company that will likely send him back to his home country. He's understandably angry and disappointed. And he doesn't understand what it means to be an American. He doesn't appreciate or understand how every vote by every citizen in this country makes a difference. 

I was a little miffed by my friend, the defeatist, though it has had me thinking very hard about why I vote and why I encourage others to vote. Right now, at this very moment, at every moment, people around the world are fighting for the right to vote. And I understand that passion but that's not why I vote. Our economy is in shambles and our foreign relations are at an all-time low. I understand that we are in dire straights. But that's not why I'm getting up at 5:30am and running to the polls tomorrow.

There were federal policies in place in the 1990's that helped me put myself through college. Without them, I could never have become a college graduate, much less a graduate of a top academic institution. And as hard as Penn was for me, both personally and academically, my 4 tough years there changed my life. They opened up an entire world to me that I never knew existed. My future is shaped every day by what I learned and the people I met in that small area of West Philadelphia. And I had the great privilege of being there because people went to the polls on election day to put someone in the Oval Office who understood that equal access to education, regardless of socio-economic level, is critical to the future of this nation. Those voters and the policies they helped to put in place gave me a shot at a better life.

I vote to return the favor for so many people in this country who need my voice now more than ever. And they need your voice, too. Please vote. If you need to find your polling location, please visit

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