Get out and vote!
It’s every citizen’s civic duty to vote, much in the same way that it’s a responsible person’s duty to pick up after their dog when they take their pooch out for a walk. Except that voting generally doesn’t involve unpleasant odors or icky tactile experiences.
My wife and I live in a state that has excuse-free early voting. My wife is of German extraction and is therefore the kind of person who believes that if you’re not ahead, you’re behind. So of course we voted as soon as we were able.
This has produced a couple of wondrous benefits. First and most obvious was that we got free “I Voted!” stickers which we wore proudly until they lost their stick-um and fell off. Second and best of all is that political advertisements no longer pertain to us. This means that all you politicians can stop bombarding us with all of your annoying TV commercials and Internet ads. But please continue to mail your fliers. The toilet paper shortage seems to be over, but one never knows what the future might bring.
My grandmothers and my wife’s grandmothers were all born before women had won the right to vote. My wife often opines that she cannot see why anyone would pass up the opportunity to have a say in our democracy when so many fought for so long for to obtain this right.
“It’s like training for years and years to become an Olympic triathlete,” she says. “You work and you sacrifice just to qualify for the Olympics. You win first place, but when they hold the medal ceremony, you walk away and say, ‘Oh, never mind. None of that really meant anything.’ What sort of dunderhead would do something like that?”
Other than that, my wife has no strong feelings about voting.
I was introduced to the concept of democracy at a young age. One fall afternoon when I was in third grade, our teacher, Mrs. Mortimer, made a stunning announcement. She had decided that each of us would produce an art project that would depict waterfowl. Would we rather draw a duck or a goose? Show of hands?
This was a stunning development. Up until that moment, I had lived under a series of iron-fisted dictatorships. My parents told me when to go to bed at night and when to get up in the morning. Our bus driver was constantly ordering us to sit down and stop yelling. At school, we had to get the teachers’ permission to get a drink of water, to go to the bathroom, to breathe. Out on the playground, bullies commanded me to hold still or this noogie was going to hurt even worse.
Never once was I given a say in any of those things. This is why it was so shocking when Mrs. Mortimer allowed us to vote regarding our art projects.
Not that it mattered. I am artistically challenged; any of my goose depictions would look like a duck and my ducks would inevitably look like geese.
But Mrs. Mortimer had opened the democracy floodgates. I began to demand a vote regarding my bedtimes and my weekly allowance. These votes were summarily vetoed, but still, it felt like I finally had a voice in things.
Upon entering fourth grade, I was allowed to join our local 4-H club. This was another eye-opening experience. Not only was I exposed to routine voting, but also a strange new thing called parliamentary procedure.
Motions – not actual movements, just abstract ideas about doing things – could be made and seconded. Votes were then held, and the motion either carried or was denied.
I often wished that this system were used at the school cafeteria. Were it up to the students, pizza would have been served every day and shepherd’s pie would have been outlawed.
But the democracy stuff didn’t end with motions. Our 4-H club members were also allowed to nominate and elect our club’s officials! This included numerous positions from president and vice president down to secretary/ janitor. We didn’t have a sergeant at arms, but I think that would have been the most coveted office.
“You there! I’m the sergeant! Let me look at your arms and see if you’ve washed them!”
Our 4-H club was small, which meant that sooner or later everyone got elected to every position. We all took turns being president or secretary or dogcatcher. I was deeply disappointed to learn that the treasurer wasn’t allowed to print money. But that didn’t stop me from signing our club’s currency.
In conclusion, democracy has been very, very good to me. I vote that we keep it going for the foreseeable future.
Jerry’s book, Dear County Agent Guy, is available at workman.com/products/dear-county-agent-guy.
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