Every day, there are dozens of political conversations that go on around me.
Add on social media, and that number skyrockets to hundreds.
But generally, I don’t take part. The voices swirl around me while I do a lot of tongue-biting.
For whatever reason, there are lots of people out there in a similar boat.
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You don’t post something on Facebook because it could have a ripple effect with work. You don’t put up a yard sign for your candidate because you already have enough tension with that neighbor who has the opponent’s sign prominently displayed.
And let’s not even talk about how family plays into it. No matter who you are, you have someone in your family whose entire system of belief is diametrically opposed to everything you hold dear. You don’t want to start conversations that will change your whole life because you might not be able to talk politics with Grandma but you still love her.
But on Nov. 8, you get a chance to speak up in silence.
Your vote isn’t just a dot you’ve colored in on paper or a box you check on a screen. It’s a chance for you to shout out loud, not just about who your choice is but about what is important to you, what direction you want your community, your state, your country to head for the next few years.
And no one has to know.
Your vote can be as public as a spotlight or as private as a prayer. It’s a communion between you and your conscience.
Right now, as we get closer and closer to Election Day, a lot of people are focusing on voting as a responsibility, but I prefer to look at it as a gift. Twice a year, you are given the chance to quietly make a choice about things that really matter in a world where so much happens without the consent of the governed.
And Grandma, bless her soul, taught me to never squander a gift.
But just like with a wedding or a baby shower, this is a gift that comes with a registry.
In Pennsylvania, voter registration is open until Tuesday. You can do it in person, by mail or online at www.votespa.com.
It’s easy, but it is a vital step that makes sure your voice gets raised with your ballot.
And sure, it’s possible that even when you vote, you won’t win. That doesn’t mean you don’t participate, If nothing else, that vote buys you another kind of free speech — four years of “I told you so.”