What you can do: Vote | AspenTimes.com

What you can do: Vote

Dear Editor:Election Day is less than a month away.This next month is a very good time for all of U.S. to take a hard look at the state of our nation, and its place in the world.It’s been three and a half years since we invaded Iraq. Not only has the fighting not ended, but it is now as bad as ever. Instead of making U.S. safer, it has magnified the vulnerability of American interests to terrorist attacks by turning Iraq into the biggest terrorist recruitment poster and training ground in the world. In the process of this, more Americans have been killed there than died in the 9/11 attacks. This isn’t even counting the thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians killed. Oh yes, and we’ve already spent somewhere in the range of $400 billion with estimates that range as high as $2 trillion by the time we manage to extricate ourselves from this mess. To give you a little idea of what else this money could buy, imagine no cost universal health care for the next five to ten years, or a completely revamped education system with free post secondary education.Now we have a nuclear North Korea with ICBMs capable of hitting the U.S., and Iran is building their own bomb. How is our government going to deal with these problems?In the process of doing its part to make the world a more dangerous place, our government has also managed to practically ignore humanitarian crises abroad and at home. For the past several years, Sudan has been in the middle of its very own genocide. What is the U.S. doing? In 2004 Congress approved nearly $300 million in aid to the Darfur region. To put that in perspective, we spend that amount every 36 hours in Iraq. Following the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the Bush Administration offered a paltry $15 million in aid. After international condemnation, that amount was raised to $350 million. That’s almost enough for two days of operations in Iraq.Here in the U.S., our government’s physical and financial response to Hurricane Katrina needs no explanation; it was sickeningly negligent.Where is all of this going?While we still have a while before choosing a new president, we do have a chance to holdCongress accountable for its actions now. The President may make the big decisions, but in the end Congress is equally culpable. It holds the government’s purse strings and therefore must inevitably either affirm or deny the President’s decisions.Every voter should become an informed consumer. Know who and what you are voting for.Your vote is a very real piece of political currency. You must use this currency to make the candidates listen to you. So I urge everyone to get involved. Not only vote for the candidate and measures that most closely match your beliefs, but support organizations and causes that share your ideals. Social capital is very real and can be very powerful, so make it work.It doesn’t matter if you vote Republican, Democrat, Independent or even Green, the key is that on Nov. 7 you vote.D. GrayAspen

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