As a child my mother would have occasion to remind me that there are three kinds of people in life: There are leaders, there are followers, and there are free-thinkers. Then, she'd tell me, "You want to be a free-thinker."
Her good advice has served me well over the years. When I hear "My family has always voted Republican," or, "I always vote Democratic," those comments suggest people who have their thinking done for them, without delving beyond political sound bites and flashy ads, thereby missing the real substance of important issues.
Think of it as a TV dinner -- you have your choice of Salisbury steak, turkey with stuffing, or roast beef, but it's still a TV dinner, pre-packaged for your thinking convenience.
Indeed, thinking independently may require stepping outside one's comfort zone, far from the metaphorical fold of fellow warm, fuzzy sheep.
Thomas Jefferson said the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. When I read his quote nearly four years ago, I realized I had become another complacent American. Safeguarding our freedom is not just for our soldiers or the few. Though time-consuming and inconvenient, democracy is worthy of our efforts. Apathy must transmute into action.
During my efforts to become better informed, I found a non-partisan website of real help in researching matters important to me: http://factcheck.org/.
For so many reasons, including corporate tax relief laws passed by the current administration (http://www.ctj.org); our spiraling national deficit, due in large part to our pre-emptive strike and unending presence in Iraq; the failure to promote existing technology for alternative, renewable energy sources; the seldom-heard Fair Tax Act of 2001 -- a national sales tax law waiting in the wings (http:// thomas.loc.gov); and reckless disregard for the inseparable link of our environment to our quality of life, this registered Republican is voting for John Kerry.
And last, a plea to women voters everywhere: For the sake of the women who fought hard for your right to vote -- some of who never lived to exercise that right -- vote!
Claire Vincent, Payson