Our View: Pay attention, exercise your right

We are officially in crunch time in national politics.

In just a month and a half, voters around the country have a huge responsibility to uphold and an enormous amount of power in their hands.

They’re being staked with the chore of deciding the next president of the United States – an election that many pundits are proclaiming is among the most important in the history of our country because of the current political climate and the current state of the Supreme Court (which means the winner will likely select multiple judges).

There are many candidates on the ballot, but by now, everyone agrees that the winner will be either Democrat and former First Lady Hillary Clinton or Republican and billionaire real estate tycoon Donald Trump.

To this point, the race has been contentious, with both candidates throwing fluff and jargon at one another in attack ads, social media posts and other mass messages.

Heck, the race has been so weird that Trump has given Clinton her own moniker, referring to her as “Crooked Hillary” on almost all instances throughout his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts.

But while the dirty politics are fun, there really isn’t much substance to the attacks.

Both candidates have told half-truths to enhance their respective stances, and both Trump and Clinton have backtracked and have flip-flopped on various issues throughout the campaign trail based on how polls were going and the country was leaning.

But now, it’s mid-September and the election is literally right around the corner.

Now is the time for voters to do a little homework, pay close attention to the things that are taking place on the campaign trail and ultimately do what Texas Senator Ted Cruz suggested: “Vote with your conscience.”

We, at The Times, do not endorse political candidates.

It’s a policy that we, as an editorial board, have selectively chosen to take so as to avoid swaying or influencing anyone’s opinions in any direction.

We do so out of respect to local political leaders who represent both ideas. We always encourage voters to vote for who they expect to be the best, most qualified person for the position – regardless of party affiliation.

But while not directly endorsing one person over the other, we do 100 percent endorse the democratic process and the election cycle, and we firmly want all of our readers to study up on the issues and to make an educated choice.

Regardless of party affiliation, we encourage all citizens to pay close attention to the presidential debates which will be taking place in the coming weeks. Through that medium, folks will be given an opportunity to see both candidates speak with one another in a 1-on-1 setting.

There’s no doubt that because of the personalities involved, a lot of the debates will be filled with one-liners, jabs and half-truths.

But the debates also give folks a chance to decipher how candidates feel about the true issues of the country. In these settings, the voters get to see both candidates while they are peppered with informed, educated questions about some of the issues that the country faces during this election cycle.

Once it’s over, it’ll be time to hit the polls and vote.

While making that final decision, we encourage voters to remember those debates and also the particular stances each candidate has before making a final decision about which person can best represent the country.

But to be an active, healthy participant in the process, one has to do exactly that – participate.

This election is entirely too important for anyone to sit out. With the Supreme Court likely to undergo some serious overhaul in the next few years, the winner of this election will have a great deal of power to invoke change in the way our country is structured.

Regardless of if it’s Trump, Clinton or anyone else, not expressing your constitutional right to have a voice is unacceptable.

The election isn’t yet here, but we’re in the crunch time moments.

Stay informed, pay attention to what’s going on and then complete the process by going to the ballot.

There’s no excuse not to.

What lies ahead is too important to the future of the USA.