As a citizen of the United States, one of my rights is the right to vote. It's an unalienable right for me, along with my right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and unfettered access to comfy blankets. Voting is an important right; it's the closest most citizens will ever get to governing the country.
I vote in every election, from City Counselor At-Large to President. I even actually go out and learn about the candidates before I vote. In any event, I urge everyone to register to vote and then go do it.
And because I vote in every election, I expect the people that are elected to office to vote as well. When John Kerry ran in 2004 (poor, dear John Kerry!), he skipped out on plenty of Senate votes in order to be on the road, campaigning. I don't support that sort of behavior; campaigning shouldn't take precedence over doing one's job.
In the 2008 Presidential race, which is starting far too early, Barack Obama has also skipped out on some votes for campaigning purposes, as highlighted in this post from theGarance.com:
...But one thing that seriously undermines Obama’s case for his judgment in the present debate over Hillary Clinton’s yes vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Iran Resolution is that Obama himself failed to cast a vote on it. Nonetheless, here’s the message the Obama campaign sent out to supporters today,* urging them to march against the war in Iraq:I think Garance has captured this issue perfectly; and it leads one to think, if Senator Obama is so concerned with the way this country is being run, he should step in and do his part in running it. He's not the President, but he is a Senator, which is an important link in the governance chain.
Many Republicans and even a few Democrats refuse to admit the mistake they made five years ago. And now we’re seeing history repeat itself as the drumbeat builds for a war with Iran.
Once again, some politicians are more afraid of appearing weak than they are of being dragged into another war.
It’s going to take your personal involvement to stop the march to the next war…
It seems to me that if Obama thought the Kyl-Lieberman Iran Resolution vote was as important a line in the sand on a march to war with Iran as he is now making it out to be, he could have taken the time to come back to Washington, give a speech on the issue, and urge all his Democratic Senate colleagues to vote no, too. And then he could have cast a vote himself.
This same applies to anyone who is running for President, or re-election to Congress: if you have a seat in the House or Senate, you should be paying attention and voting. That to me is more important than any grandiose speech or kissing of babies.