It is one of the boasts of our republic – and rightly so – that when the nations of the world look for a model for democracy, they inevitably look at us. Our Grand Experiment, though still a work in progress, holds out a torch that lights the way for the hundreds of millions of people who are deprived of their basic rights as members of the  human race and their civil rights as individuals.

Our commitment to individual freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is what distinguishes us from all other nations and at the core of that commitment is the peaceful transfer of power that takes place during scheduled elections.

How is it, then, that election time brings out the worst in some Americans? The viciousness that has been passing for campaigning this season, the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into some campaigns, some from unknown donors, have been a mockery of our electoral system. We have allowed candidates to seek our votes not through a reasoned discussion of issues but through vile personal attacks and ridiculous and preposterous positions that would normally make political laughing stocks, not serious candidates.

It is not good enough for us to sit back and say, well,  it is just politics as usual. That is precisely what some people want us to do: become so infected by the venom that has poisoned our body politic that we do not vote. We stay home, they win.

But it is not too late to repudiate the shallowness that passes for erudition and the unashamed attempts to buy our election process. We must refuse to reward those who tarnish our democracy with their evil pursuit of sheer power.

We have the political sophistication to differentiate between the power-hungry and those who see power as just a means for the advancement of our communities and our nation. On Tuesday, we have an opportunity to show that we have analyzed the issues, examined the candidates and vote – yes, vote! —   as citizens of the greatest democracy the world has ever seen.

We have the opportunity to make our votes count.

That having been said, two key races require special attention: the U.S. Senate and governor of Florida.

Gov. Charlie Crist, Congressman Kendrick Meek and former state House speaker Marco Rubio are running for the Senate. Mr. Crist makes for a very attractive candidate, having proven himself capable of working in a bipartisan manner. That quality got him into trouble with his party and Mr. Rubio was able to gain ascendancy and the nomination and Mr. Crist chose to stay in the race as an Independent. But bipartanship has been a lonely road for President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats and just how effective Mr. Crist would be in Washington is highly uncertain.

Mr. Rubio, who once had the makings of a fine national political figure, rushed to far-right politics, into the arms of the tea partiers and has been spouting ideas and enunciating policies that threaten the survival of gains that were won in tough battles by African Americans and others in an era that was supposed to be long over.

Mr. Meek makes no apologies for being a liberal Democrat who espouses the causes of working families, the poor and the needy. He will be a dependable ally of the President and a trusted friend of those who do not have the deep pockets to buy influence in Washington.

The South Florida Times recommends Kendrick Meek for the U.S. Senate. 

In the gubernatorial race, Republican Rick Scott and his running mate Jennifer Carroll are in the contest with Alex Sink and Rod Smith.  With his background in highly dubious business practices and putting profits above everything else, there would be little that Mr. Scott, owner of a healthcare company, can offer. His one saving grace is Ms. Carroll, who, from all reports, is a splendid person, businesswoman and politician. But she is in bad company. And they have not made a case why Floridians should continue to put the state’s affairs in the hands of yet another GOP chief executive.

Ms. Sink, the state’s financial officer, and Mr. Smith, an attorney, former state legislator and former gubernatorial candidate, comprise a formidable Democratic team. They will bring to bear the kind of experience that Florida needs at this time in our history.

The South Florida Times recommends Alex Sink for Florida governor.