Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rock It, Y'all

I don't consider myself an overly patriotic person, but there's something about voting day that makes me want to stand outside all the local polling places and sing "God Bless The U.S.A."

Of course if I actually did that, no one would stick around to vote because, well, I can't really sing, and no human could possibly endure my shriekish rendition of the final note. So maybe I should just lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance instead, but you get the idea.

My parents always made a big deal about voting when I was growing up, and I have lots of memories of Daddy coming home from work, picking up Mama and me, and then driving to the place where they voted about eight miles away. Sometimes Mama even let me go into the voting booth with her, and I would daydream about being eighteen and getting to push all the little buttons and then pulling the lever on the voting machine because I AM A NERD, you see.

My fascination with voting and the politicial process didn't diminish as I got older. The summer after my senior year in high school, I drove over to Jackson twice a week to volunteer at campaign headquarters for a Mississippi gubernatorial candidate. This is only astonishing to me in retrospect, since now I look back on that time in my life and wonder why I wasn't hanging out at the pool or trying to sneak out of the house instead writing letters and answering phones and listening to campaign strategy sessions.

All I can figure is that basically, you know, I was a goober. And I loved it.

When I finally turned eighteen I was in college, and I was so excited about being able to vote that I actually DROVE HOME ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON so that I could vote at the same polling place where my parents took me when I was growing up. I remember that I was wearing a long red skirt with a red and white striped sweater because clearly, when voting for the first time, your vote does not count unless your outfit registers the appropriate level of Respect For The Process as well as Patriotic Fervor. I was all about it.

At that time in my life I was idealistic, a little left-leaning, and more than a bit naive about politicians. By my late 20's and early 30's I was, as my husband likes to say, leaning so far to the right that I almost fell over. And now, in my late 30's, I find that I'm much more like my 18 year old political self - only without the naive part. I'm much more moderate, just as apt to lean to the left as to the right, and more than a little disillusioned by the scandals and the secrecy that seem to characterize our political system.

It's hard sometimes to watch party leaders point fingers at this group and that group and the other group about how they are the cause for All That Is Wrong With The World without ever bothering to extend a helping hand to people who really need it. But I'll save my Social Responsibility lecture for another day. :-)

I've been so tempted this year to just throw up my hands, say "what difference does it make," and pretend like this particular Election Day doesn't even exist. But the bottom line is that stepping into that booth, pushing those buttons, and pulling that lever (oh, the lever! the glorious lever!) – well, it’s the best shot I have at making my voice heard.

I hope I never take that forgranted.

And I’ll see you at the polls.


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