Now that the two conventions for the Republican and Democratic parties have come and gone — it’s time for the real battle to begin. And the gloves have already come off.

The two candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have already begun to crisscross the country, shaking hands, kissing babies, sharing more about their platforms — even criticizing their opponent at every possible turn while pumping up themselves.

Each will make a few foibles along the way — like Trump’s uncomplimentary and condescending statements about the Khan family — Muslim-Americans whose son gave his life in order to keep his fellow soldiers safe — that have gone viral and made even fellow Republicans wonder if the billionaire businessman has the temperament and wherewithal to serve as our president.

Meanwhile, Hillary has her own challenges, most notably whether she can truly be trusted and if she’s too closely aligned to Wall Street’s financial tycoons and organizations and the status quo in general

So, some are saying they may just stay home, throw caution to the wind and forget about voting this time around. But that’s something we can ill afford to do. Every vote matters. What’s more, to abstain and decline from participating in the process allows others to vote for you — therefore deciding your destiny.

Is that really what we want to do? I don’t think so.

It’s imperative that every Black-owned business, every Black church, every Black family, every Black nonprofit and politically-based group, and anyone who cares about those individuals or organizations, make sure everyone in their circle is registered to vote.

Then, when Election Day comes in November, Blacks have to show up in force. If you have to carry someone on your back, do it. If you have to pick up folks who need a ride, do it. If you have to bribe your adult children or your baby’s daddy or momma to get out of bed, throw on some clothes and get to the poll, do it.

There’s so much at stake, from school board and city council members to judges, members of Congress and of course, the presidency. And don’t forget whoever emerges victorious in the race for the White House may appoint up to three jurists on the Supreme Court.

We have the ability to decide what kind of country America will be in this next four-year span — one with a man like Trump or one with a woman like Hillary Clinton.

But someone will be moving into the White House. The question is whether they’ll have our interests on their agenda or not.

Vote!! Vote!! Vote!!

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