My Facebook timeline goes back to 2008, so I guess that’s when I first got on Facebook. Kind of weird that the one thing you can’t see on your timeline is the the day you signed up, but anyway….

Something I have learned: Facebook can be a terrific window into American society.

Like most people in the Foreign Service community, my friends list includes people from all over the U.S. and all over the world. My whole family is on there, including my grandmother. There are relatives I haven’t seen since I was a baby, and even some people I didn’t know were kin to me until I started getting into genealogy! So, it’s a cross-section that includes a lot of really cool people. And it’s fascinating to see the different points of view.

I have a lot of interest in politics and policy (particularly when it comes to so-called women’s issues) and I enjoy a reasoned debate, on or off Facebook. OK, let’s face it, I just like arguing a point. And I like watching other people debate. Give me a good courtroom drama on TV any day. And Presidential debates? Oh yeah, baby, bring on the popcorn.

Fortunately, my husband shares this addiction. Election Night is bigger than the Super Bowl in this household. I think we argued about something on our first date, and I know we argued about the religious implications of our wedding ceremony as soon as he proposed because I remember that, as we left the restaurant, the guys at the next table said “you both go to [insert incredibly argumentative Jesuit educational institution here] don’t you?”

But, I have learned one thing from Facebook over the last couple of years.

Some people have serious, philosophically or practically-based views on issues.

But, others are just off their meds.

It took me a little while to realize that. But, since I made the decision to hide or ignore anyone who was abusive, consistently off-topic, or just plain didn’t make any sense, my little Facebook world has been a much nicer place. I don’t have a problem with people who disagree with me. I’m a liberal from the South, for heaven’s sake, so I’m quite used to that. I’m talking about people who are detached from reality.

I mean, I don’t hang out on street corners in downtown DC arguing with people who wear tin foil hats, so why would I do that online?

More recently, I realized a second thing.

Crazy people get exactly one vote each. So do the rest of us—at least unless someone has managed to figure out a way to deprive us of it. One vote each. So, really, why bother debating anything unless you just happen to enjoy it? Much more effective to just shut up and vote.

Obviously, this is REALLY, REALLY important if you are woman at this point in history. There is some serious head-smacking that needs to be done, and I don’t just mean to Todd Akin. (Though, if you prefer to envision smacking Mr. Akin when you vote, by all means…)

I think it is also especially important if you are in the Foreign Service or an expat of any kind, and not just because this looks like it’s going to be a close one.

First, we have a unique perspective that needs to be represented. We’ve seen all kinds of governments at work—or not working, depending. And we have an inside perspective on the inner workings of our own government (ditto).

Second, the mere fact that some jurisdictions are making it more difficult to vote makes it even more important to do so. You can bet that if someone is going to that much trouble to keep you from voting, they have a reason. There is no need to speculate on the reason, because that’s not the most important thing. Just don’t let them get away with it. Period.

Third, most people in the Foreign Service, whether they are liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between, are not stupid or (very) crazy. And I think every smart, reasonably sane vote is a good thing—even if I don’t personally happen to agree with it.

So, off my soapbox now. I hope I have inspired you to get your ducks in a row in time for the first Tuesday in November. If you are currently overseas, allow me to recommend the Overseas Vote Foundation as an excellent, non-partisan resource. You should find everything you need on their website, and there is even a Voter Help Desk if you have an unusual situation and can’t figure out how to get registered.

Just do it. Register. VOTE.

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