When I was growing up, I lived as the eldest child of a mixed marriage.
My Mom was a Democrat. My Dad, a Republican.
Each election, they would have the same discussion. "Why bother voting? We'll just cancel each other out anyway."
And each time, they both did vote. Secretly hoping the other one wouldn't.
So, growing up in this type of a home, I heard both sides of the story. Though they didn't talk much about politics, their personal views and ethics were clear. They were respectful of each other, and agreed to disagree. And disagree they did.
My mom died in 1998. My dad is still a staunch Republican, with Christmas cards from the Bushes arriving each year, and of course his prized possession, a photograph of himself with his uncle Melvin and Ronald Reagan, in the prime position on the wall in the den, next to the door, so he can see it every time he walks in and out. My grandparents, too, are Republicans from way back, and are proud to wear little elephant pins on their lapels and decorate their homes with American flags and red, white and blue.
On my mom's family's side, things are a bit quieter, but their political views are just as strongly held and just as passionate. Though they may not wear their opinions on their sleeve or lapel, they do their duty. They vote.
As do I. Every election. (OK, I admit that I think I missed one for alderperson back in 2002.**)
Today, I got to feel that wonderful feeling that I get each time I walk through the school doors and give my name and address. I hobbled on my crutches over to a table and folding chair, sat down, and cast my ballot. (I had to suppress the urge to cheer as I headed toward the door.)
I am proud to be an American, and I always will be. I am proud to have the right to vote. I am proud that my vote counts, even if statistically it's not very much.
But it's mine. It's my opinion. It's my values. It's what I feel and think and believe, and I have the right to tell my government. It was a right that people fought and died for, and I do not take it lightly.
And every time I exercise my right, my duty, I am filled again with that powerful knowledge that ensures me--I do matter.
And so do you. Please, if you haven't yet, cast your vote. Tell them what you think.
Because it is important.
*Image from University of Tennesee Libraries.
**Alderperson 2002: I still feel a little guilty about that one.