The River's Badge

Monday, November 3, 2008

Please Vote

My eighth grade history teacher was kind of a jerk. He was young and arrogant. I'd had him as a student teacher in seventh grade geography class, and nobody liked him. He took himself too seriously.

So, of course, when I got my eighth grade schedule and saw Mr. Haman on my list for US history, I was disappointed and somewhat concerned. He didn't strike me as someone who would be easy to get along with. And he had no sense of humor.

Early in the first semester, Mr. Haman decided that as a fun (?) exercise, we should all make up campaign signs. Of course, nobody in the eighth grade gave a damn about stuff like that......well, except for you-know-who.......the political nerd.

For some reason, I'd always liked the whole pomp and BS of political campaigns. I was one who used to watch both parties' conventions on TV (of course, keep in mind, there were only three channels, and every channel carried the conventions - and not just a one-hour special every night, either - it was all night).

So, I went home and worked on my sign. My dad had some of those magnetic letters that you stick on a board. I guess he used them for advertising purposes. So, I grabbed onto some of that, and worked up my sign. And yes, I stole the campaign slogan, but our instructions were hazy about whether that was okay or not.

My sign read:

VOTE LIKE THE WHOLE WORLD DEPENDS ON IT.
NIXON/AGNEW

Yup, it was 1968. And I had, independently, decided that I was a Republican.

You see, that was heresy in my home. My dad was a lifelong die-hard Democrat. He came from a long line of lifelong die-hard Democrats. He remembered the depression. He remembered FDR and all he had done to help the country. I don't blame my dad for admiring that guy. Even if he did kind of become power-mad and got himself elected to four terms.

And then there was Truman, and (skipping Eisenhower, of course), there was JFK and LBJ. Now, I can't really speak to Truman, because was I even alive then? I'm not sure. But I know he was an "everyman", and my dad, I'm sure liked that.

Kennedy, now, was not an everyman. JFK is viewed as some kind of "god" in Democratic circles (sound familiar?), but frankly, he didn't have what you'd call a "high moral character", and his daddy bought the election for him. It's important to separate the man from the myth.

LBJ, well he came across as a big rube from Texas (again, sound familiar?). And, after he got us mired in the mud and blood of Viet Nam, and got a whole bunch of kids killed for no Godly reason, he decided not to run again.

So, here we were; 1968. Richard Nixon against Hubert Humphrey, who, like my dad, was from Minnesota.

Well, when my dad saw my Nixon sign, let's say he was "very disappointed" in me.........

However, when Mr. Haman saw my Nixon sign, a slight smile came across his face, and he said, "That's plagerism, isn't it?" I actually didn't know what plagerism meant, so I had to look it up later, but Mr. Haman didn't seem too upset about it.

And after that, Mr. Haman and I got along just fine.

I, of course, was not eligible to vote in 1968, but starting in 1976 (the voting age was 21 back then), I voted and have voted in every presidential election. It's a privilege and a duty.

In 1976, I was hugely pregnant, and in fact, three days away from giving birth, and I stood in line at the school and waited my turn to vote.

I have voted in snowstorms. And ice storms. I will never not vote.

Yes, I have voted Republican every time, except one. Yup, I actually voted for a Democrat once. But he seemed moderate and the other guy hadn't done a very good job. And he had a big ol' Southern accent and a reassuring manner. Probably honed from wooing all those ladies.

So, please vote. And please take it seriously. This is not a popularity contest. Whether you're 21 or 71, what this next guy does is going to affect you. Especially in your pocketbook. And haven't we been affected enough in our pocketbooks this year already?? Just ask my 401K statement.

The only thing I will say is this: I judge people by what they've done; not by what they promise they'll do. If I'm at work and some new employee comes over to my desk and promises to do all my work for me and even buy me lunch, I'm gonna be a bit skeptical. On the other hand, if my long-time co-worker has helped me with my work in the past, and has even bought me lunch once or twice, I'm going to feel relatively certain that, if they say they're gonna do it again, they'll do it.

Also, if the new employee comes to work, runs through the aisles and yells, "I'm great! Look at all the work I'm going to do!", I'm really going to hate her. And there's my old co-worker friend, who always comes to work on time, doesn't call in sick, sits and does her work, and doesn't feel the need to jump up and do a victory dance. I think I'm going to admire that person.

So, duty and honor. And not patting yourself on the back, especially if you haven't actually done anything.

Sacrifice. Existing in a prison cell for five long years; living on nothing but prayer and hope and stubbornness and dignity.

Not drinking merlot on a law professor's salary and fearing to touch or shake hands with ordinary working-class people, for fear of "catching what they've got".

I prefer to put my country in the hands of the steady, unassuming co-worker.

Talking about politics, I know, is going to make 50% of your readers hate you. Of course, since no one actually reads my blog, what's 50% of zero? Ha!

Anyway, vote. But please take it seriously. This isn't American Idol. It actually will affect your life.

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