Thursday, September 04, 2008

Your vote counts.

In the heat of the primaries, I was standing at the grocery store check-out, ready to swipe my card. The cashier and the bagger were discussing two candidates, Hillary and Obama.

Squirming in my flip flops and yoga pants, I waited for the total.

As the cashier gave my total, she looked up at me and said, "I think it would be nice to finally have a woman President. Don't you?"

Knowing my response would not be well received, I gently answered, "Yes. Just not that one."

The cashier stared at me in wonder.

As I pushed my cart away, I turned to both the cashier and bagger and said,"But, that's what is so great about this country. We each have a voice and a vote."

I was sitting on the couch, watching television last night. Daughter was tucked in bed and Hubs was on the love seat suffering through the minutia of The Republican Convention.

My husband does his civic duty. He stays informed. He votes. He just doesn't get fired up about it.

Politics is for me what college football is for other people. The only difference is that I don't eat chips and dip during the inauguration.

We watched together last night as Sarah Palin gave her acceptance speech. To be candid, I haven't quite made up my mind about McCain's choice. Although I'm passionate about politics, I've always considered myself rational about the election process.

But, last night, as the first conservative woman to be nominated for Vice President of the United States spoke eloquently and boldly before the nation and before her husband, daughters, and special needs son, my emotions crept up into my throat and I found myself crying.

I was moved.

Moved by the idea that I could identify with her more than any other candidate.

Moved by the idea that she could be second in command.

Moved by the idea that she could be in command.

It was then that I could, in some small way, also identify with African-Americans across this country who are moved when Obama speaks.

Let me be clear. This white girl from Georgia can never, ever fully comprehend the past and current injustice of black people in this nation.

I can never, ever fully understand what their ancestors suffered.

I can never, ever know how much those who overcame and continue to overcome the past, those who forgive and march on, appreciate the opportunity to take those steps toward true freedom.

I can, however, understand the emotion.

To some extent, I'm feeling it. At least I did last night. For a moment, I was sucked in.

Conservative, stay-at-home, and working women of all races are talking this morning about Sarah Palin. They're talking about how great it is to see someone like them. They are blogging and emailing in between homeschool lessons and car pool trips.

They're talking about how wonderful it is, how it feels.

Politicians know this. All of them. Democrat. Republican. Independent.

They pay people millions of dollars to design posters and commercials, write speeches, build platforms, and even select wardrobes for their candidates.

All of it is crafted to impress us, to make us feel, not make us think.

They know that an African-American man who experienced the sixties is going to be genuinely moved by a speech touting victory. They know when to tell a cameraman to close in on that man's tears. They're politicians. That's what they do.

They know that a conservative mom sitting on her sofa, watching The Republican Convention is going to be moved by a woman with a family who stands for life and values. They know to tell the cameraman to zoom in on a sleeping baby or a little girl waving to the crowd.

They know that this same man and this same woman will feel a certain way about a candidate.

In fact, they're counting on it.

While it is indeed historical, monumental, and, dare I say, emotional to observe as the first African-American is nominated for President and the first conservative woman is nominated for Vice President, we can not, should not allow that emotion to guide us into the voting booth.

Republican or democrat, conservative or liberal, we must be moved by our own convictions, by our rational judgement of the candidates' policies, by our responsibility to make an informed decision.

We must ignore the camera shots, and the media hype, the policitics-as-usual. We must wipe away our tears because of, not in spite of, historical triumphs.

When we do, we will think through our choice, ignoring racial and gender lines, and clearly see the best person for our country.

And while we must never grow cold or indifferent to the wrongs, the injustices and the victories of this nation, we must use these lessons in history to strengthen and educate us for our future, for our children's future.

Yes, it would be nice to have a woman for President, for Vice President. It would be nice to have an African-American for President. But, I can't let those feelings, those hopes influence my vote.

So, I wait. As do you. We wait and watch as this election unfolds.

Somewhere in this country is a grandchild of an African-American man who triumphed through the sixties and a daughter of a conservative woman watching and waiting for us to make the right decision in November.

In fact, they're counting on it.


Mary B said...

And that is a good word. Very eloquently written. Thankyou.

Roxanne said...

This election is going to put me in the grave. I almost prefer the ones where you KNOW who's going to win, but this one will NOT be that way. It will be close, and my hope is in our Father who blesses and holds us all in his hand. . .and gives us the priviledge of living in a country where we can choose who our leaders will be by using the intelligence He gives us.

No matter what--this is still the greatest country on earth.

happygeek said...

So very well said.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Well stated, duly noted. Good stuff.