By Daniel Zarchy

Democracy is a funny thing.

From the early days of the Roman Senate to the modern days of Capitol Hill, there has always been a constant battle between the idealism and cynicism that people associate with the political process.

Early 20th-century essayist Agnes Repplier said it best: “Democracy forever teases us with the contrast between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements.”

Still, despite the quandary of our government, now is not the time to retire to the hills in obscurity, cut all ties to the modern world, or, the oft-quoted plan B, “Move to Canada.”

The political process has simultaneously become so vilified and caricaturized that for the modern citizen, it’s easier to mock and resent the system than to become involved and change it. It’s easy, at times, to think of the government as an all-powerful, tyrannical force. And yet, throughout world history, the people have overcome these dictatorships, and the dictators find themselves facing the business end of a guillotine’s blade. When the people want something, they get it, and the upcoming election is the perfect way to demonstrate what you want.

No matter who survives the primary battle royale on Super Tuesday, I assume that I will be voting Democrat in November, not because I agree with every campaign promise, but because I am honestly scared of the entire Republican corner. While the November election has the tendency to polarize the nation between the blue and the red, the primary process has the power to give voters a better choice.

Primaries are your chance for idealism, before the heroic possibilities fade into November pragmatism and another boxing match between the ass and the elephant. Go out, vote your mind and your heart and take a stand for the candidates who have not been embraced by the mainstream media.

The media also has a tendency to boil things down to such a level that most people only know their candidates by stereotypes and sound bites. How did Barack Obama become the “candidate of change,” while Hillary Clinton remains associated with the “failed” policies, the sorry achievements, of the last 232 years of American government? How much does the average voter really know about the Clinton health care plan, or the Obama energy plan, or the Kucinich “Department of Peace”?

Idealism does not need to end, and we do not need to settle for the lesser of two evils.

Write to your candidates, call your Congress members and tell them who you want, what you want, and why. In the end, your vote put them there, and your vote can kick them out. Demand something from Column A and from Column B. If our candidates are too proud to admit that their rivals have something correct, then they are not the candidates for us.

We are on the cusp of a mighty power and a mighty decision. For many of us, it is our first chance to vote in a presidential election, and it is a power that we have fought bitterly for. As our parents begin to collect Social Security and we take over as the leaders of this potentially great nation, it is our job to do our research, know the issues, and vote with our hearts.

There is no such thing as a “candidate of change.” It is the responsibility of the candidates to represent us, and it is our responsibility to make them.