In 1972, I had a favorite T-shirt. It was white with the word "VOTE" on it, spelled out in the stars and stripes of the American flag. At age 10, I figured myself to be pretty cool, a regular hippie in my pro stance on the importance of registering political choice.
Flash forward to 28 years later when, my one and only child being less than one year old at the time, I brought her into the voting booth with me to help me pull the lever in the presidential election. I so want my daughter to undertstand the importance of voting that in the years since, whenever possible, I've brought her with me. This has occasionally led to moments of embarrassment, like the year one mayoral candidate had so many signs up in town that my daughter would have been justified in thinking he was the only candidate for the job. Since his was the only candidate's name she knew that year, when I pulled the lever for the other guy, she shouted, "Mom, why didn't you vote for Candidate X???" I doubt there was a person in the polling place who didn't know how I'd voted that year as we pulled back the curtain and exited the booth. So much for the privacy of a person's vote. Oh, well. As I explained to my daughter, I did not vote for Candidate X because he did not embody the ideals I believe in.
My daughter is 10 now, the same age I was when I so proudly sported my VOTE T-shirt, and she's pretty politically savvy. She can't stand the attack ads on TV, nor can I. Attack ads have become so much the norm that when I heard an ad for New York's Chuck Schumer last week, talking simply about all the positive things he's done while in office, I wasn't sure what to do with that information.
If attack ads are the norm, then robocalls are the norm nuisance. Where I live in CT, one candidate for U.S. Senator has been phoning my home with automated calls on a regular basis. This is extremely annoying because this candidate is not a member of my party and even if you hang up the phone during the call, if you pick up the phone again the voice is still droning on until the message has been completed. I picture myself having to call an ambulance or the fire department and not being able to do so until Candidate Y's message is complete. Late last week, a real live person called me on behalf of Candidate Y while I was working. I made the mistake of picking up the phone, thinking it might be one of my husband's customers, only to have this real live representative of Candidate Y drone on so long, he might as well have been a robocall. At last, he finished his spiel and the following exchange transpired.
Him: So, can we count on your support next Tuesday?
Me: No, you cannot count on my support. I wish you Candidate Y people would stop calling because I would never, not if I lived another million years, vote for Candidate Y. Not. In. A. Million. Years.
Him: Oh. Well, this message has been paid for by Candidate Y.
Me: Well, clearly, Candidate Y is not spending her money wisely.
The truth, though, is that tomorrow's election has nothing to do with attack ads or robocalls. It has everything to do with choice. Someday the U.S. may have a viable third-party choice or even more. But while some states this year have third-party candidates that stand a chance, for the most part and for the purposes of this discussion, your choice will come down to one of two candidates. In the words of Bill Clinton, regarding tomorrow's election: "Is is not a referendum. It. Is. A. Choice. A choice between two different sets of ideas."
That's what you've got, America, a choice. Figure out who best represents your idea, and then make your choice and your vote count.
So how about you? Got any voting/political anecdotes to share?
Be well. Don't forget to write.