My history of voting and you should, too.

I went to high school in New York City, living with friends from my church.  I volunteered for the Mondale campaign, although too young to vote.  I was crushed when he lost. How could he lose when I cared so much and I had stuffed so many envelopes?!

I then moved to Boston for college. Meanwhile, my divorced parents had both moved.  I really had no idea where I lived, much less that I was able to vote in Boston. But I wasn't actually paying attention, disillusioned by politics and all.  So I didn't exercise my franchise for a number of years.

Then one day, Governor Dukakis was defeated by King and I realized that I was outraged, and felt guilty for not paying attention.

So I started paying attention and voting.  I have voted in every election since 1980, except one off-cycle local special election that slipped under my radar.

What I have learned over all those years is that local elections matter.  The person running for School Committee one year is running for mayor a few years later.  State Representatives run for Senate.  It's a pipeline, and if you want a President you feel like you can vote for whole-heartedly, you have to do your part to get the right people in all the lower level elections.

You also learn that people who run for office are people, and not a single one of them is perfect.  So you look to see if they share your values and priorities and how hard they work, and try to guess how much they may compromise themselves in order to get enough money to run again.  That any politicians are able to keep their souls intact is close to a miracle.  Expecting perfection is unreasonable.

The only way to change politics, and your choice of candidates, is to actually participate: research and vote, call and write them once they're elected, with questions, complaints, and thanks as warranted.  Let them know that you're out there and that you vote.  Otherwise, you are invisible and irrelevant.

The only vote that doesn't count is the one not cast.