Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Have an Obligation to Vote

Today is election day.  Last night, I talked about the ballot measures with DG, read some blogs with various picks on the candidates and issues, marked my ballot, and placed it in a place in my work bag that I know will make it out the door.  Ever since I was 18 years old, I have voted in every national primary and general election.  I feel I have an obligation to vote--as a citizen, a woman, an educator, and a mother.

Don't worry. I'm not going to get all political on you.  I would describe myself as not very political at all.  I'm not that person at a party who starts a conversation with, "Can you believe what those yahoos are doing in congress?"  I quietly have my beliefs and try to stay out of the conversation. Except for those ubiquitous bashing political ads.  Hate them.  Kinda makes my stomach turn, and even more detrimental, makes me shut down and become mistrusting.  Political rally-er, I am not.

But if you really think about it, most people practice things in their lives that can be construed as a little political.  As moms, we make decisions about what we're going to feed our children--to breastfeed or not--organic or not.  We make decisions about education--public or private school.  To others around us, these decisions can be seen as a progression of our political agenda. It's based on our values, the way we want our children to have the best lives they can--often better than the lives we've had.  I mean, even as a member of the PTA, I am a part of an organization that lobbies for children and good education practices.  As moms, we are our children's best proponents.

As a college professor, I try to let my students know that voting is one of the most important things they can do to advance their own beliefs.  So many of my students in the suburban community college where I work feel like voting is something they don't feel qualified to do.  They're just 18.  They don't understand the propositions or the smear campaigns of the candidates (well, let's face it--who does?).  And I tell them that is precisely the point of college.  To learn about their world and to have a say in its future.  They say, "But no matter what I say, politicians are going to do whatever they want, so voting or not--it doesn't matter."  Arrggghh, I sigh.  Apathy.  No, no, no.  Imagine what leaders might do if you did not have a voice.  Voting assures that differing opinions are brought to everyone.  Your voice matters.

I read a quote by Thomas Paine that says, "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it."  Fatigue means work.  The suffragists were tireless in their efforts.  As a woman, I feel I owe it to them to learn about a campaign and vote.  I have a responsibility to support my freedom and the right that they fought so hard to gain.

So today, when I pick up my kids, we'll march over to the polling booths, place the ballot in the little hole-puncher-thingy (I know, I think that's the official name for it), and fulfill my obligation.  Whatever the outcome of the election, I feel good knowing that I am modeling good citizenship for my children.  Who knows, I might even hand over that little "I Voted" sticker to them.


clueless but hopeful mama said...

Here, here!

And our polling place gave both girls their own "I voted!" sticker. Zoe has been proudly wearing hers on her butt and Ellie tried to eat hers and wound up with pieces of it stuck to her neck.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

It's amazing to think that not too many years ago women didn't even have the RIGHT to vote in this country. We've come a long way, huh?! And that is great that you take your kids with you. I think modeling good behavior is the absolutely best way to teach.

notmytree said...

I voted! Dude, when I turned 18, I wasn't excited to be able to gamble, buy cigarettes, go into sex shops or whatever. I was excited to VOTE, and my first vote ever was for now-President Obama.
I hate that so many young people in my generation are politically apathetic. It may not seem like one out of millions of votes will make a difference, but if everyone thought that way, nobody would vote and there would be no elections at all.
And politicians CAN'T just do whatever they want once elected, because our founding fathers and mothers built a system of checks and balances into our government to prevent exactly that from happening. That's why, unfortunately, Prop 8 happened. It always comes back to the people. Citizens have real power, if only we can come together to use it.