One of the hardest things to teach a novice storyteller is this: you must love all of your characters, both protagonists and antagonists. You must understand the "villain" and his motivations as clearly as you understand your heroine and her ideals.
That's the credo I've tried to live by during the 2012 election season. I have friends and relatives on both sides of the debate, and though I have a harder time understanding one side than I do the other, I choose to believe that all of the people I love—Republican, Democrat, or something else—are making their decision from a desire to make their world a better place.
But I've danced around the subject of where my vote's going for too long, especially considering how important I think this election is. So, which candidate am I supporting, and why? Lets go in reverse and start with the why. Here's where I—a self-confessed shut-in who tries his best to ignore the real world and live in the pages of books, the frames of films, and the riffs of rock and roll—stand on the issues.
The Economy: Spend less money than you take in, but take money from me for things that are worthwhile, Big Bird and healthcare among them. Help the less fortunate citizens of your country out to an extent, but remember the old "teach a man to fish" thing.
Wars and Foreign Policy: Stay the fuck out of the business of other countries unless they actively fuck with us and ours. Then, and only then, retaliate. Do not take advantage of the brave men and women who volunteer to protect us. Put them in danger only when you absolutely must.
The Environment: We human beings, we have a tendency to think ourselves above the rest of the living things we share this planet with. The only difference between us and them is our ability and willingness to fuck shit up for our own benefit, without thought of the consequences. Find ways to fix our reliance on oil (both foreign and domestic) and to invest in clean energy before another "once in a hundred years" storm hits us. The next time, it might actually wipe out a city, and then NBC will have to broadcast its benefit concert in a submarine.
Drugs: Legalize pot and tax the shit out of it. As for the other stuff, take whatever steps are necessary to keep it out of the hands of kids, but don't overreact to use by adults who choose to fuck up their lives with the stuff. See if you can help them or rehabilitate them, but if they don't want help then let them kill themselves with the junk.
Gun Control: Make it harder for idiots to get ahold of them, but not at the expense of law-abiding folks.
Religion and Social Issues: Keep your imaginary friend in the sky out of my business and everyone else's. As Patton Oswalt says of The Bible, I'm glad you like a book. But let's make a deal: you don't force me to follow rules based on your thing and I won't force you to believe that a dude in yellow and red armor is going to save us from an alien invasion with the help his octogenarian buddy and his giant red, white, and blue Frisbee.
Don't tell me that a guy I went to college with is ruining the sanctity of marriage by marrying another dude when your parents are divorced and their parents are divorced and you would be too if you weren't staying together for the kids.
Don't tell me that the process—IVF—that gave me my daughters should be illegal because it's against God's plan or some other such horse shit. And, while we're at it, don't tell me that, when my daughters are grown women, they shouldn't have complete control over their bodies.
In short, don't tell me or anyone else what we can do with ourselves, our bodies, and our lives unless our actions actively and irrevocably harm another person.
So, who am I voting for? The choice is clear, crystal fucking clear, as I think it should be for anyone who is a daughter, has a daughter, has or had a mother, has or had a sister, or who has ever loved or even merely respected a woman. Elections should not, generally speaking, be decided on a single issue, but this single issue is too important to ignore.
I understand if you disagree with me and I respect your decision to make whatever choice you decide to make. But: nothing scares me more right now than the thought of Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States, and nothing makes me more hopeful for the future of our country and my family than four more years for Barack Obama to get right what he has already begun to fix in our land.
Whatever happens tomorrow, please know that I love and cherish all of you. I hope the best of what we dream for ourselves and our children is what comes to pass.