Special to JohnFMurray.com – November 3, 2008 – Since opening my clinical and sports psychology practice in 1999 I’ve purposely avoided talking politics. Not that I don’t have a view or perspective. It just doesn’t feel right to pick sides publicly. My work involves trying to help people of all shapes and sizes, and of all political, ethnic, and other backgrounds. In other words, while I might not agree with the views of all my clients, I at least want to present a neutral face to them to allow them to feel comfortable and share. I’m asking them to be open and to reveal highly confidential information to me, so it makes no sense to create immediate barriers or sudden alliances which might jeopardize the clinical process.
That being said, I am standing tall on my soapbox today strongly advising everyone to vote (but only once!) on Tuesday. We’ve hopefully evolved as a strong nation built on a solid constitution and laws. Our continued survival as a nation depends on our active involvement in the political process rather than apathy. We actually elect our leaders in this country, even if there is also corruption, shady advertising, or heaps of money clouding objectivity. Whoever said it was a perfect system? Life is never so simple, but I would like to think that it is an advanced means of change better than in other countries where violence, intimidation, or far greater corruption is the norm. We as the people who are the government need our vote to count in transferring power to one person. Each and every one of our votes is critical to making the process survive another 200+ years.
So I ask everyone to vote, but to vote with information and your own thoughts, rather than tuning to groupthink or drinking either party’s fruit punch. Study the issues thoroughly, and be careful about what you hear in the media. Depending on what channel you turn on you will be slammed hard in one direction or another. While the process is not perfect, the people still greatly influence the electoral tally which in turn decides the outcome. Abdicating your responsibility by not voting, not matter how lukewarm you may feel about the candidates, is a vote itself. It is a vote for giving up your rights, and since you are part of this nation, the country gains fewer rights as a result.
Many people died on far away shores in many conflicts over the years for our right to vote. We won the Cold War and we defeated the Nazis. The last thing we want to do is to defeat ourselves through negligence. More than ever before we are facing threats both economically and in the ever present fear of more terrorism on our shores. We desperately need leaders who are smart and wise, and who help make us better. We need to exercise our right to vote, and to act as precisely as a surgeon uses a scalpel.
After all the votes are counted and our leader is chosen, we need to exercise even more vigilance in holding that leader to his campaign promises. He is not our dictator and he needs to be accountable to us and held responsible for his actions. Study the issues closely before voting. You will be in a better position to rate how well your new president is doing in the future. If this person violates our trust, a trust that we bestowed upon him, then we need to act decisively to find someone new in four years with another vote.
One thing good about crisis is that it makes us all think. This is a difficult period for America, but we can overcome these problems as we have many others in our past. But it is all based on one word VOTE!
Let’s vote Tuesday in greater numbers than ever before in history. Good luck new president. We’ve chosen you and your legacy and the fate of our nation will be very much in your hands. Do your job well and we’ll keep it in your hands for 4 more years.
Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.