LETTER: You have one vote -- make it count by doing homework

I just heard on the news that Rick Perry has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for president. That leaves four contenders. Which one will be selected to face President Obama in November is still anybody's guess. There are many others that will be standing for election or re-election that same day in November. How much will I, as a citizen, have to say about those very important decisions?

I have one vote. I hope to cast it wisely by paying attention and carefully filtering out most of the political crap that gets floated out about candidates via PACS (Political Action Committees), Super PACS and big national party machines that use money from whatever source is available to buy elections. Will they sell you a candidate or will you choose one for yourself?

To choose one for yourself requires a bit of work on your part. You have to look carefully at where the candidate really stands. What kind of record does he or she have? Are they promising things that might really be possible or are they just wishfully thinking out loud about those things they think we want to hear?

No, it isn't easy being an educated electorate. You have to look, listen, and sort things out to separate the truth from fiction. Notice I did not say lies. There will be plenty of those too, but they will all be wrapped in pretty phrases with a little bit of truth attached to make it more believable. There will be quick slogans and quick fix ideas, but fixing the woes that face our state and nation will neither be quick or easy. It will require guts and determination, so you have to look very closely and listen very closely to see if a candidate has both. They will need both if they are really going to help rather than do as their colleagues who have been in power have done, which is little or nothing to address problems that everybody knows have to be addressed.

I have three beautiful grandchildren. I love them dearly and have a wonderful time with them whenever they are around. But when I look into their beautiful eyes and their bright, smiling faces I cannot help but wonder what kind of country and state are we leaving for them to inherit? Frankly it scares the hell out of me.

I am a native Georgian and my heritage is long in this state and this country. I still believe it is the best place to live, work and raise a family. But the problems this country and our state face right now and the lack of political will to even begin to address these problems makes me worry that the options and opportunities I had may disappear completely. What will there be in place for my grandchildren and yours? And for that matter how much impact will it have on my children and yours, because I think they are beginning to feel changes even now.

The election season is in full swing and the pace will pick up as the weeks and months go by. Decisions made in 2012 will have lasting impact on our children and grandchildren. Try to do your best to make the best decisions when you vote, and please vote for your children's and grandchildren's future. I intend to do just that.

-- John Hooper