Like everyone I know, I cannot wait until this presidential election is over. The nastiness, the lack of depth and intelligent analysis, the social media overload – all of it needs to go. Away. Now.
I’m very much looking forward to voting tomorrow, along with my husband and our daughter, whom we’ll pick up from her student apartment after her last class of the day. We’ll walk into our precinct voting place together and cast our ballots, hope for the best. Later, my son and daughter-in-law are coming to our house to watch the results roll in. A few friends are joining us.
Am I going to try to sell you on my choice? Not today. But I am going to echo the general call to get out and vote, exercise your hard-won right as an adult citizen of this country, and be respectful of everyone else who is doing the same. Do not predict the end of the world as we know it if you come up against someone who is voting for your candidate’s opponent. We’ve had enough childish doomsday forecasts to push people into making a choice based on fear, incomplete truths, or flat-out lies. Think about the bigger picture, why experience matters, how the checks and balances inherent in our system really work, and what candidate promises are realistically impossible to fulfill.
For that matter, think about what you learned as a child about being fair and doing a good job.
When I was a kid, my dad was adamant about voting in every single election. This is what good Americans did. I went along every time my parents voted, listened to them from the back seat of the car while they discussed the election. I remember during the 1972 Nixon vs. McGovern election I was just becoming aware of how candidates tried to make themselves look good and was beginning to understand that there was a lot of disagreement about Vietnam and women and racial differences. Our local parish priest admonished all of us that voting for a candidate who supported abortion rights was not what a good Catholic did. For my parents, this meant that McGovern was not a good Catholic choice, but he was the Democrat and this caused a great deal of anguish. My mom was very clear that she could not vote for McGovern, but my dad did not like Nixon. I asked my dad if he was going to vote for Nixon or McGovern after learning about them both in school, and my dad informed me that we never had to tell anyone who we voted for. He might not even tell my mom who he chose and she might not tell him. It was a sacred, private thing. Of course, I know now it might have been in my dad’s best interest to keep mum.
When I was old enough to vote, I talked to my dad about the candidates. I didn’t keep my choices a secret from him. Now, Mick and I talk a lot about who we support and we have not had an election over which we’ve disagreed much. Our differences in choice of candidates come early on, before the party endorsements happen. But our philosophies are similar. We are lucky that way. I cannot imagine being married to someone who has a completely different political sensibility, especially in this election season.
Is this election season any more divisive than that long-ago 1972 season when there was so much strife in this country? Or the 1968 election, which I cannot remember? I don’t know. It seems like it is more divisive today, but I believe my parents were every bit as worried about the future in 1972 as I am now. I worry about what we are creating for our kids with all this fighting and arguing and inability to come to a consensus on things like health care, immigration, education, and foreign policy. What gives me hope is that we still have the right to choose our representatives, still have a process that prevents change on a whim, and that many people are going to the polls already through the early voting option. It gives me hope that many are speaking out about this campaign season’s bad behavior with the suggestion that this is not how adults should behave.
Come Wednesday, we’ll know who our next president is. Let’s honor the democratic process. Vote.
images courtesy of Pixabay.com