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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Born On A Soapbox: My Political Life

I've been known to wax political on this fine blog of mine, and why not? I'm a Political Science junkie, having earned my degree in the field as of six years ago this past June. I've always been drawn to the process our nation has gone through to find itself new leaders and representatives, who are ideally standard bearers to light the way to a better tomorrow.  If you'd indulge me (and I assume you are, if you're reading past this statement), I'd like to editorialize and recap my political life and the experiences I've been through.

My earliest political memory was when I watched, what I assume were, the Dukakis/Bush debates of '88. I was 5 at the time, and between writing fake memos to my mother (I was playing "Guidance Counselor" at the time) I was supposedly commenting on the debates themselves. At one point or another, I said something that made my mother exclaim (with fond comedic value) "Michael, you little Communist". I assume I said something that sided with Dukakis, because my family loved Reagan so much they had to have voted for Bush. (Childhood memory eludes me with some details.)  I grew up in a (for all intents and purposes) Republican household.  As I'd said before, my family loved Reagan.  They still hold him as a standard bearer to this very day.  As much as my mother loved Reagan, my father loved Nixon.  He loved Nixon because he ended Vietnam and spared him the horrors of combat, as he was serving in The Marines during wartime.  I too hold a soft spot for Nixon for that same reason, as well as because of the man's political acumen, despite his ignominious end.

In High School, I was thinking of becoming a Senator in Virginia, and strangely enough my mother said that I sounded like Kennedy in my graduation speech.  Ask anyone in my f\family, and they'd probably recall that at various points in my upbringing I've been called "a born politician".  When I turned 18, I was so upset that I'd missed the 2000 election by a year, unable to fulfill my proud duty as a voter.  Still, if I remember correctly, I voted in a local election that year, and I was proud as anything.
 
It's no doubt that political thought has always been in my blood.  Especially as I went through college and found other like minded people (whom I'm still friends with to this day). We were the guys that read the paper at breakfast. The guys who would talk about Rassmussen polls when we weren't talking about movies. We were those guys you'd expect to take over the world, or at very least a small part of the campus.  And today, we're still sending each other poll results, political cartoons, and commentary on the election in general. 
 
Which brings us to today.  My youngest brother, Nicholas, has just turned 18 this year.  He's one of those infant minded citizens Ann Coulter wishes couldn't vote until they were 21.  Apologies to Ms. Coulter's remarks, but I believe otherwise.  I believe that in this country we still have civic minded people of a younger age that want to do something.  Now granted, there aren't a lot of them, but there are still some.  And I would like to pose the theory that growing up in a household of any strong political views does a person good.
 
Ever since I was a kid, I've had political values instilled in me as a core part of a person's life.  To quote an age old belief, popularly espoused by Aaron Tippin back in the '90s, "You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything".  That's how I was raised.  I was raised to believe that voting is not just a privilege, it's a civic duty all Americans should take part in.  I was also raised to believe that elections aren't the time to sit around and let things pass you by.  I'll admit, there have been times I haven't made it to the polls.  I'm ashamed to admit that.  But we all have our mistakes and our failings, and I never fail to hold true to my beliefs.  I am, however, open to those beliefs evolving along with my tastes. 

This November, it's time for the electorate to once more raise its hands, cast its votes, and continue the American traditions of civic duty.  No matter who you vote for, no matter your convictions, you must vote so that you may be heard.  It's as simple as that.  I'm not going to dangle celebrities in your face, or pander to your fandoms and religious beliefs.  I'm appealing to your sensibilities as an American citizen.  A citizen who isn't afraid to speak their mind, be it on the Internet or at gatherings.  Someone who cares where this country is heading.  Someone who wants to make a difference.  We are living in times where good people should not live in silence.  We are in times where no one should be silent, so as to determine the true nature of the course our country is headed on.  These are trying times, that seem perilous and fraught with worry.  Moreso than we've ever seen, depending on who you talk to. 
 
I'd like to say that sentiment is false.  This country has been through plenty, and it's been through much worse.  True, we're not living in the salad days that some would tell you came before, but we're not at the bottom of the barrel.  We'd just like to think so, because it justifies our vote for the people we believe can save us.  Which is perfectly natural, in fact it's the way voters think.  But I'd like to think that proper voters, the people with true heads on their shoulders, vote with more than feelings.   They also vote with truths. 
 
Personal, inalienable truths that people hold self evident.  Truths that balance out with other people's truths, which combine to form one great truth: we're Americans, and we're damned proud of this country.  We're so proud of it, we want it to succeed and prosper as it has in the past.  The major disagreements are with who and how we carry on that greatness.  And if you fit the bill, then your county registry has a ballot with your name on it.  Your ticket to defend the republic for which we stand.  Our nation (you can take the 'Under God' as you may), indivisible, believing in liberty and justice for all. 
 
Some may see it hackneyed or trite for me to crib from old school political thought, and why not?  It's been used for good as well as bad in our political discourse.  But at least they've been used.  Indeed, the Founding Fathers, and all the great political minds that came after them in our long history, have written words that spoke to the nation.  Those words even built this nation, and those words will forever be the bedrock to our personal beliefs.  They are the ultimate precedent in our cases for where we want to go tomorrow.  Their intent may not always be pure or be just, but they are there to guide.
 
I'm going to close with another, more foggy memory of mine.  It's of my parents taking me to an Anti Florio rally in Trenton as a kid. (In fact, I think it was this rally here, because I remember signs about taxing toilet paper being present.  It's funny what you remember with things like this.)  Yes, my family was (and is still, for the most part) pretty Republican; and yes, for a time I too was in the Republican way with the family. As I grew up, I started to part terms with those ways, with the final divide being in the 2008 election.  In the end, I'd like to think my parents are proud of the sons they raised. No matter what party affiliation, no matter what politics they hold, I'd like to think that they are proud that we are active and voting.  America, get out and vote.  It's a tradition we should all agree to uphold.  And parents/friends/family?  Be proud to know a voter, no matter what their vote shall be.
 
Matt Stone and Trey Parker had it right.  "America...Fuck Yeah!"

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