Saturday, October 18, 2008

A letter to the editor

Today I sent a letter to the editor of my local newspaper, The Ephrata Review. I don't know if they'll have time to print it before the election, or if they'll even want to print it at all, but I thought I should exercise my ability to write one all the same. Plenty of other people do, and don't even have much to say. Lots of things about God usually--things that don't even have anything to do with the paper or what is going on in town. The Letters to the Editor page in the Review is more of a weekly soapbox than it is a forum of discussion. So I decided I might as well step up and take a swing myself. Mine at least has to do with the current state of affairs. Politics, namely, as if you could expect anything else in the last weeks of this presidential race.

It's a much less harsh letter than I initially wanted to write, and I'm not even sure that all my good-naturedness is actually real, but I had to fluff it up a bit to make sure the editor would even consider publishing it. Here's to hoping that he does, because I really do feel strongly about the general idea of what I wrote at the least. But if he doesn't, here it is anyway for you to read:

"I recently moved back to the Ephrata area after spending the last four years in Pittsburgh, an extremely Democratic area that hasn't voted for a Republican mayor in more than seventy years. So when I came back here I was obviously prepared to come back into a "Red" area, and knew I'd be seeing more McCain-Palin yardsigns than I could even begin to count. But that's perfectly fine with me. I'm glad to see that people are involved in the political process, even if it is in support of a candidate that I oppose. I'd rather them vote for McCain than to just not care and not vote at all. However, I fear that in as small and close-knit a town as Ephrata is, we run the risk of having group-think take over. Peer pressure. It sounds ridiculous, sure--am I really afraid that I'll get beat up in the parking lot for voting for Obama on November 4th? Of course not. However, I spoke to a fellow Obama-supporter recently, and asked her why she didn't have a Obama-Biden sign in her yard to counteract all of the McCain-Palin ones on the street. But she owns a business and fears that she would scare away some of her more vocal Republican patrons if she did. I would hope that her fear is unfounded, but it made me realize just how powerful those signs can be.

If I were an undecided voter with no political ties in this area who just wanted to vote to exercise my right to do so, I would probably look around me and see the majority of my friends, family and neighbors proudly supporting John McCain, and conclude that perhaps he is who I should also vote for. Even if I weren't so out of touch with politics as that, and instead influenced directly by my vocal friends and family and neighbors, I'd even more certainly be pulling the lever for McCain, still not knowing what my options really are. And there are options, this year more than ever. I am not writing this to discourage McCain voters in any way--all I hope to make known is that it is worth looking into who you are voting for. This isn't a beauty pageant we're deciding here, and you shouldn't allow yourself to be swayed in your beliefs. I encourage everyone to put out their yardsigns and not have to be afraid of backlash. If you aren't sure about McCain or Obama, do a little research and find out whose platform best represents your own values. But most of all, don't fall into a vote just because you're scared of what your friends will think. Your vote is yours, and you should be proud to cast it for whomever you please.

Jeremy Zerbe"

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