It’s still early on Tuesday morning and the polls in PA just opened less than an hour ago, but I’m already hearing (from someone who tried to vote, saw a line of 40-something people out the door, and walked away) that lines are long for polling places. If I didn’t know he was going to try again at lunchtime, I’d tell him, “Vote anyway.”
Schools are closed so kids are home for the day. I slept in an hour later than usual and I still have a pounding headache. Probably because tomorrow is Closing Day. If McCain wins, I’m going to bite my lip and pray things work out in spite of him. If Obama wins, I’m going to smile and pray things work out in everyone’s favor. Today I have to get the check for the title company, then run a few errands. I’m going to vote somewhere between when the lines go down because everyone’s gone to work and when the lines heat up again because work has let out for the day. Then I’m going to Starbucks and telling them, “I voted!” and I’ll get my free tall mocha. I was going to vote anyway, but a free mocha just ices the cake for me.
Every year in our house, we got The Speech about the imperative to vote, and how it’s not just a right, it’s a privilege. My father came to the US 50 years ago (last September) with barely enough money for a hot dog once he got off the boat. As a teenager, he walked away from the only life he knew because he’d seen life in East Germany and he wanted something better than that. That’s all any of us wants, right? We don’t need to have too much; just enough, enough to keep food in our bellies and a safe shelter over our heads, enough to educate our children and see that they have more than we had. To ensure we keep “enough”, we vote for representatives who we hope will speak for us. Time sometimes shows us that some speak for us and some don’t, but first it’s out job to make that decision on who represents us in making the rules that govern the land.
So even if you’re voting Democrat and your neighbor is voting Republican doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote because you know your vote will get canceled out. Vote anyway. So what if it’s raining; vote anyway. So what if the lines are long; vote anyway. Maybe you have to take the kids with you (as I do) and they get antsy waiting on line; vote anyway. (I plan on showing Ryan what the polling booth looks like; he probably won’t get to stand in with me when I cast my ballot but I want him to see what it looks like in there so he’s not intimidated when it’s his turn in 5 years.) Even if you don’t care one way or the other–this year, I can’t fathom anyone thinking that–or your guy hasn’t got a chance in hell of getting elected over Obama or McCain; vote anyway. Maybe you’ll find out you really do care, or maybe the guy you voted for doesn’t win, but you can at least say you let your voice be heard.
Sarah Palin’s been saying a lot about patriotism over the last week or so, and while I’m not her biggest fan, in a way she’s got a point. Maybe more than serving in the military, voting is our patriotic duty, and one each of us should undertake with a conscious, thoughtful effort. History has shown that people have died for this privilege, not just those with guns and Army boots but those on homemade rafts floating with the tide to the Florida shores; those who’ve hidden away in containers on cargo ships; those who packed boats pulling into Ellis Island. People die trying to come here for the privilege of having their voices heard. Are we going to let these peoples’ deaths be in vain, or are we going to honor their valiant efforts by speaking up?
Go vote, people.