Sunday, November 02, 2008

Why I Ask You to Vote: a non-partisan note

This post was originally published on September 29, 2008.



When I was in third grade, my teacher gave us two questions to prepare for debate: The first one was, “Should children have homework?” The second one was, “Should children be able to vote?” I thought that children shouldn’t have homework but that they should be allowed to vote. Since I brought the questions home to prepare for debate the following day, my mother saw them, and offered her thoughts. She said that children shouldn’t vote because they were still too easily influenced by their parents. She was pretty convincing, because I came to school with an argument about why children shouldn’t vote. Half-way through the debate and away from parental influence, I reverted to my original eight-year-old viewpoint.

I had to wait more ten years to participate in real elections. Of all the cities in which I lived, my favorite place to vote was New York City because of the old-timey lever system akin to the ones I watched my parents use. For most of my voting history, I’ve filled in bubbles next to my candidates’ names, referendums and initiatives as if I were taking multiple-choices exams.

It can be hard to get excited about voting if you think your vote doesn’t matter because it’s only one of many. It is easy to stay home (or not mail in the ballot) if you think that you’re stuck with choosing between Lousy Choice A and Lousy Choice B. I get that.

However, a couple of elections ago, a friend of mine convinced me that my civic duty was to deal with the candidates we had rather than holding myself aloof because none of the candidates fit exactly with my ideals. I also decided that I had to show up—in one way or another— to let my elected officials know what I think of the way they run my government and to help bring in other people if they don’t listen carefully enough.

As we prepare for another American presidential election, I want to encourage you to think about our candidates and do the research to find out when and if they’re telling the truth (Factcheck.org is a good, non-partisan source). Think about what is important to you. Listen to what other people say, but don’t let them tell you how to vote. Your vote belongs to you.

You will find a roundup of voting posts on Chasing Ray.

9 comments:

TadMack said...

Sounds like some good conversations were behind this. Sorry I missed them!

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Word.

BlueMamma said...

I acknowledge myself guilty of holding myself aloof until I see someone worth voting *for* rather than against. However, I consider my mitigating factor - it would be a big deal for me to become a citizen (and enable my voting rights), so I'm not sure the time is right for such a step.

I salute your post.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

TadMack: I had thought Colleen Mondor asked us to do blog posts on why we should vote and have them posted this Monday. I probably misheard, because I've not seen any other posts yet... well, here it is anyway! You were missed, my dear.

Jules: Thanks. By the way Mother Reader mentioned during her presenatation on Saturday that some people respond to every comment while others wait awhile. I don't want to respond to every "yea rah" comment, but it does seem weird to me not to acknowledge comments, so that's why I do it.

Bluemamma: Thank you for your words. I am leaning on Bede to become a citizen so he can vote. He wants to vote, too!

Lone Star Ma said...

What a wonderful post! The LSG says kids should be able to vote at 16 when they can take jobs because it is otherwise taxation without representation. Hard not to see her point, but teens are so squirrelly that I tend to like the Scandinavian model where kids get a vote so their interests will be proportionately represented in the population but their parents exercise their vote until they reach majority.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

LSM: When I was 16, I thought that my wages shouldn't be taxed precisely beacause I was underage and couldn't vote. It was the same idea, but flipped. I didn't know about the Scandinavian model, so thanks for letting me know about that.

Phil said...

I miss the lever voting machines. Also I wish we could use markers on the paper ballots instead of pens; it's a lot of work filling in all those bubbles with a pen.

Melangell said...

I was impressed by the Monsignor
at the Cathedral where I am a parishioner. I have recently become Catholic, and I have held my breath and crossed my fingers when it has come to elections. But this time around, Msgr Jerome gave a rousing homily that listed all the things that Christians believe in, such as right to life, a living wage, protections for the poor and the vulnerable, freedom from illegal wars, no capital punishment, etc etc. He then said that no one candidate would satisfy everything we would want, so that we would need to exercise our civil duty to VOTE, and to try to make the best choice, given the givens. Plus he added - the people in the parking lot who are handing out leaflets do NOT represent the diocese - "we would not presume to tell you how to vote."
I was reassured by Msgr Jerome's position - THINK.

MotherReader said...

I love the idea of dealing with the candidates you have instead of waiting for the ones you want. I feel good this year about it, but that has certainly been an issue in many other elections.