It's just a little sticker. It's not much bigger than a silver dollar (for those of us who remember when there were silver dollars). You could probably order about 1,000,000 of them for less than $100.
But it stands for something - something that I realized today is what makes America the greatest place on earth to live. Even with the war in Iraq, the Congress's ongoing lack of spine and action, the Foley sex scandal and the self-aggrandization of our so-called leaders, I would still rather live here than any other country on earth.
The little sticker I'm talking about is the one that said "I voted." I've already thrown mine out, but when the lady at the local elementary school put it on me, I thought it was something special. I had a couple of object lessons about voting today - one from someone who couldn't and one from someone who couldn't wait.
My music teacher is from South Africa. She and her husband are here working in the United States, but they are not American citizens. Their son, who was born here, is. I found it ironic that a 23 month old boy possesses more rights and protections as an American citizen than his parents, both of whom work, pay taxes, and contribute to the U.S. economy.
Then when I was at the polls, there was a family with a young girl who was voting in her first election. I assume that she had just turned 18, but her mom and dad seemed quite proud that she was taking part. They were taking pictures and the girl was smiling and seemed very proud to participate in the democratic process.
And that's what made me think about the greatness of the system. People who live here are accorded certain rights because they are Americans. We don't cut people's heads off if we disagree with them; we don't send death squads in the middle of the night to kill people; we don't have the military overthrow the government and install one of its generals to lead the country. If we don't like our leaders, we unemploy them . If the people voted into office today don't do a good job, in two years, (for Congress) we can throw them out of a job.
If we don't like the President or the people he puts in charge of the executive branch, we vote them out of office and get a new bunch of people in there. That's what makes that seemingly worthless little sticker special - it represents the freedom to say "I don't like what you have been doing; you no longer work for me."
And that's one thing I think is important to remember - our system of government (in theory at least) derives its right to govern from the will of the people. If the people don't like the leaders, they throw them out using something much more powerful than force - a ballot.
Who did I vote for? None of your (@*#$& business. But did I vote? You had better believe it. And I plan to in two years, as well. And for as long as I can.