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Dine With Distinction, Vote With Distinction!

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Co-Authored by Ellen Offner, Principal, Offner Consulting, LLC, health care strategy and program development.

As shoppers, diners, and eaters we are adept at making small distinctions.

It used to be Heinz or store-brand catsup. The same went for mustard, Gulden's mustard or store-brand mustard. Now the array is staggering. Mustard with honey, or mustard with spice, Dijon or regular, stoneground or smooth. The choices don't stop with condiments. Every bite on the menu comes with a ten-minute description, farm-raised or not, local or shipped in, grass-fed or using other grains. GMO or not, it is exhausting. But we study these distinctions and have become experts in their meanings. We know what we want and which restaurants will serve it to us. Then we get to the libations.

Even water has at least two choices, sparkling or still, in addition to tap or bottled. Many restaurants and supermarket aisles have a dizzying array of choices, Evian, Perrier, and San Pellegrino. The rows and lists are endless.

With tea, it is no longer Tetley for the uneducated and Sweet Touch Nee for those feigning sophistication or nostalgic for the tea served by their parents or grandparents. Now we have to choose the color. Is it green, white, or black? Flavors are too numerous to even mention and, of course, we must choose organic or not, caffeinated or herbal.

As for coffee, we can get the golden drink imported from a myriad of other countries. Would you like light, medium, or dark roast. Regular or espresso? Ground or whole bean?

Don't get us started on wine, region, season, color, and type of grapes. All this takes lots of study and lots of time. We become practically professional in hairsplitting choices. We see and taste major differences in food and drink. We are the masters of choosing.

However, when it comes to politics, we can't be bothered to see the distinctions. Many say, "Hillary or Trump, it doesn't matter who gets elected, it will all be the same." Two more different people, two more different approaches, two more different philosophies are harder to find. Yet our very trained eyes are blind. We see sameness, despite a ginger combover and blonde sprayed hair. If nothing else, the packaging is different!

Many can't be bothered to make the distinctions that will influence their lives and the lives of their families and future generations. Others stand staunchly with impossible dreams, and vote for a third party with simple answers to very complex problems, throwing away their vote, thinking they are protesting. When they may in fact be steering the election to one candidate or the other.

This is a moment to be true to our best selves, selves that can tell the difference between a lightly roasted smooth Colombian coffee blend and a full-bodied aromatic Kenyan high mountain espresso. Take a few minutes to learn the difference between diplomacy and bluster. Take a moment to learn that democracy was established so we didn't have to rely on one person's "Trust me."

If you are a member of a group that might be a target of hate or exclusion, and who isn't? Then think about which candidate would encourage more inclusivity...

Put as much effort into learning about the candidates as you have put into learning about each individual item on the grocery shelves. It's good brain exercise!