On the way to work this morning, we voted. To me, voting is a privilege, responsibility, and a mitzvah. The act of voting connects us directly with our local, state and national society because we are participating. We say to ourselves and our neighbors that whether we like our choices, we take part.
Far too many people were unable to take part in the past. Women, minorities, and ex-cons are among the people whose voices have been silenced. Some are trying to silence voices this year, in 2012. I believe that we owe it to our personal and communal ancestors to vote, because too many of them were unable to do so. Can you imagine a conversation with a great (or great great) grandmother and telling her “sorry, I don’t want to vote because of X, Y, or Z?” She herself may have been of voting age in the early 1900s, but she was not allowed to do so as a woman.
Voting is a mitzvah, an obligation/commandment when we study the Talmudic text “din d’ malchuta dina” (the law of the land is the law) found in tractate Nedarim 28a. This principle, found a number of times in rabbinic text, helps us know that Jews must follow the local law in all cases except where doing so directly contradicts halachah (Jewish law). While voting is not required in America, it is an important part of participating in the law of the land.
I hope that voting fills you with pride and hope for the future.