Back in 2008, a group of bloggers organized a day on which they gathered together posts about why voting matters. They're doing it again this year, and again I'm taking part. (Here's the round-up post, at Chasing Ray).
So here's why I'm voting.
I'm voting because there is more at stake than just who becomes president--the local elections are going to have an immediate impact on my life in my small New England town, and I have been busily trying to find out which local candidates share my concerns--it's hard, because (strangely (not)) no one candidate completely agrees with me (as I have explained to my boys, I myself would be utterly unelectable).
But I'm going to be studying the candidates carefully, because the choices that the people who win in these local elections make are going to affect my life almost immediately (what, for instance, will happen to the large piece of land, teetering on the edge of vast commercial development, up at the end of my street? Will having legalized gambling help my state's economy, or should I vote against it because of the fact that our federally recognized Indian tribe cannot legally have a casino? Will voters approve bond issues giving us better colleges and more open space? Will my friends get to marry each other?).
In short, voting matters, at a purely pragmatic, practical, local level, to everyone. Almost immediately.
But in my heart I vote because I'd feel ashamed if I didn't. Here's what I wrote back in 2008 (now slightly edited), that explains why:
On Tuesday morning, my boys and I are going to go vote (my husband would be voting too, if he were a citizen). It's a short drive to the elementary school just up the road, but it's long enough for me to tell them stories.
This year I'll be reminding them of the Arab Spring--with all its hope and horror and repercussions that are still being played out.
I'll tell them about the monks of Burma taking to the streets in peaceful protest five years, and how we might never know how many disappeared or died. About Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, locked in her house for years. About the military dictatorship that killed and imprisoned anyone who tries to make their voice heard (my eyes get a little teary). (note to self: see what's up in Myanmar these days: World Bank approves first aid in 25 years--good; ethnic violence imperils reform--bad).
Then I'll tell them how I watched, back in 1989, a young man in China block the path of a tank, simply by standing still. I'll tell them of people who risk everything for the rights we take for granted.
At this point we'll be pulling into the school parking lot. Sniffing hard, I'll tell my boys that it is to honor these people around the world, who would die to have our rights, that I vote every chance I get. That if I let my voice be silenced, out of laziness or inertia, I would be failing them.
And I'll tell my boys that maybe my one little vote, here in our small state, won't make or break the national election. But if we throw away the chance to vote, as if it were of no importance, we dismiss the struggles of people past and present to get that chance.
We'll walk past the people holding signs for their various candidates (who aren't afraid of being dragged away by evil government agents), we'll walk to the nice folks handing out ballots (our friends and neighbors, who are doing their best to run a good and careful election), and I'll have to sniff again before being able to say my name.
"Voting always makes me cry," I'll explain, with my best attempt at an insouciant shrug. Because, darn it, it does.
And my children, being older and more adolescent than they were four years ago, will probably be hideously embarrassed. Tough.
at 7:24 AM