February 11, 2012
I had the opportunity recently to visit with some extended family and it gave rise to a conversation very much worth sharing. I sat in a corner chatting with my grandmother while the rest of the family, mostly older aunts and uncles, turned the conversation to what can only realistically be described as political gossip. You have all heard it, it's just people spreading gossip and rumors they got off of Facebook or an email forward about so-and-so politician and then interspersing a few lame jokes to cement their already obvious political opinions. This was a group of conservatives so it was all Obama bashing and whatever dirt was out on the Republican presidential hopefuls they didn't like.
The fun part came when my grandmother leaned over and asked me, "How do you vote... are you Republican or Democrat?" I answered her as truthfully as I could with a quick little bipoliticalist viewpoint. I said, "I am neither. I vote for candidates from both parties, but before I do I find out if they agree with the things that are important to me and if they are a respectable and ethical person. I look up their personal history, their voting history, and the things other people say about them. Just because someone belongs to a certain political party doesn't mean that I agree with them. This is especially important in local politics where the decisions they make will actually affect me." I noticed the room seemed to be listening so I added, "I also have no respect or patience for people who show up to vote and mark all the R's or all the D's and don't even know know who some of the candidates are that they just voted for, or know anything besides the name and political party." She will be 100 years old if she lives a few more years and has been a Republican for as long as I have known her, but bless-her-heart, she nodded and said, "That is a very respectable way to do things." The room became awkwardly quiet and then the subject changed rather abruptly to local sports or something.
I made people uncomfortable, but I am glad that I did. We have a problem in this country with too many people taking the easy way out and voting based on superficial things. The way I vote is not easy and takes some time, but I am personally invested in the decision and I always feel good about voting, even if I misjudge a politician. Blind voting is possibly worse for the democratic process than doing nothing at all because it's just bad citizenship. If I can influence people to think about their decisions than I am doing something worthwhile.
The Letter Writer