Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just Go Vote!

I'm going to go off the topic of romance this month only to discuss the importance of voting in the upcoming general election on November 6.  Why not in October, you may ask?  My day is the 16th, and if you are not yet registered, you only have until October 9.  I'm not going to electioneer at you either, though obviously I'd love to have you support the candidates of my choice.  But the important thing is that you vote.

I took the training to become a volunteer registrar 6 years ago.  My 4 kids are all young adults and either in college or just finished, so I work 2 part-time jobs in addition to writing and trying to squeeze in time to promote my books.  I have very little time to do any volunteering to better my community.  But I realized that many people don't know how to register, or to change their name or address, so they can legally vote.  FYI, all of that can be done at your local DMV.

Why do I care? I was in high school back in the tumultuous early 1970s, when the Viet Nam War and the draft were splitting our country apart.  Hmm, diametrically-opposing viewpoints seem to be an intrinsic element of functioning Democracy, not something new created by our current situations.  I remember having friends talk about losing brothers or cousins who turned 18, then were drafted, put into a uniform, and later sent back home to their mothers in a zippered body bag.  (Tim O'Brien has written excellent books on what those soldiers faced.  I read "The Things They Carried" in one night because it was so horrifying in its senselessness that I never wanted to pick it up again.)  Yet since the voting age was still 21, the young men being asked to give their lives for their country's war, had no choice in who was their commander-in-chief.  The voting age was dropped to 18 right before I graduated from high school, and I promptly registered and have voted ever since.

I've been at polling places that were crowded and busy, but that's not the norm. Americans don't seem to value what people in newly-Democratic countries wait in line for days and risk their lives for: the right to choose their leadership.  I've done voting drives in high schools, junior colleges and trade schools.  I've registered relatives, friends and total strangers.  And despite their attempts to discover my personal beliefs, I've told teenagers who spout slogans and sound bites at me from both sides, that I'm okay with their vote possibly cancelling mine, as long as they don't just think what they are told to.  I advise them to learn what the issues are and what each candidate proposes to do about them, and to make their own mature decisions now that they are legally adults.
We learn much in school about the fight for equality for African Americans, who fought too long and hard for their rights to vote, to allow newly-designed voting restrictions to keep them away now.  I wish schools also taught about how long and hard the battle was for women.  Even the white wives of the men who ran things were told they weren't capable of thinking about such complex issues.  The arrests, the forced-feedings, the beatings...all of that was endured to ensure that each and every one of us has the right to speak our mind at the ballot box.

The polls are open in most states from 7am to 7pm.  If you can't squeeze time into your day, fill out an absentee ballot form and vote from home.  Or contact your local Election Commission and ask them how you can vote there in person.  In my state it can be done the first couple of weeks in the month prior to the election.But use the rights that others fought for and won for us.

I'll close with a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville: "In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve."  Please vote and ensure that we do.

Note: I usually don't preach at you.  I  try to entertain you with realistic contemporary romances. 
Learn more at: www.fionamcgier.com


Tina Donahue said...

Absolutely - everyone must vote in this election, particularly women and anyone who feels disenfranchised by the Wall Street goons and corporate America. Deregulation and greed brought this country to its knees. We don't need more of that. We need a chance for EVERYONE to reach the middle class and beyond.

stormiekent@gmail.com said...

Wonderful post. I shared on Facebook. :-)

jean hart stewart said...

Excelllent post. Wish I could insure a couple of my misbegotten friends, who've announced they don't intend to vote, would read it. The documented decline of the middle class is horrifying.

Fiona McGier said...

Thanks for the supportive words, and for sharing my thoughts!

Jean, some students walk right by me when I ask if they are registered, telling me, "I just don't care enough", or "What difference does it make? The election has been bought already". I want to smack them upside, the head, particularly if they are boys, since all 18-year-old young men have to register for the Selective Service, even though we don't currently have a draft (thanks to former President Ronald Reagan, whose WW2 service consisted of making patriotic movies safely in CA.) They don't seem to be aware that if they don't vote, they are abdicating their right to choose who will be their next Commander-in Chief, who might decide the voluntary armed forces need some back-up from a draft.

I have a button that says, "Vote or shut up." If you can't be bothered to express your opinions where it counts, at the ballot box, then don't waste my time telling me your opinions any other time.