Yesterday, I took my children to witness democracy in action. We have been taking our kids to vote since they were able to push the buttons. We want them to understand that voting is our civic duty. This year all of them were able to discuss candidates. And discuss, we did.
L-, our middle daughter, wanted to know who would vote for a “dumb butt” like (insert named candidate). We discussed that name-calling put us on the same level as said “dumb butt” and was not an intelligent or meaningful way to discuss candidates. She then proceeded quite accurately to discuss the candidate’s, shall we say, lack of behavior control. Unfortunately, the media’s highlights of the bad behavior of the candidates have outweighed any of their actual ideas or platforms, so L- doesn’t know why we should vote for someone…only why we shouldn’t.
The night before Super Tuesday, I had discussed with my husband how I was going to vote. Voting has become like a game of chess. There is strategy involved so that the least conscience-disturbing candidate is chosen for the nomination. It’s clinical; it’s mathematical; it’s certainly not what I signed up for when I was an 18-year-old idealist.
The first year I was able to vote for president, I had just finished my freshman year of college. I was full of hope and had no real allegiance to either of the two main parties. I was fascinated by the candidates’ platforms and spent considerable amounts of time discussing politics with my fellow classmates. When I went to vote that first time, I didn’t care if I was “throwing my vote” away. I voted for who I thought would make a good president. Unfortunately, my candidate didn’t have the votes to succeed, and I witnessed my first defeat. Yet, I never second-guessed my vote. I knew that voting for an independent was not the smartest mathematical or strategic decision. I just liked what he stood for.
Now I am older and, hopefully, wiser and voting has become this game of strategy.
“Ok, based on the numbers, if I vote for X, who has no chance of winning, then I have in essence voted for Y. But, if I vote for Z, who is moderately competitive, then there is a chance Y won’t succeed in winning. Then again, I need to also study the other party. Who has a better chance of triumphing over Q? That’s who I really need to vote for, even if I don’t really like them as a candidate. Because, at least they are better than Q.”
It’s exhausting, this mental game of chess. And as I took my daughters into the voting booth, I realized I didn’t want to play the game. I wanted to show them that I was voting for the candidate that I aligned with the most. I knew he didn’t have a chance of winning our state, but that wasn’t the point.
My Our vote yesterday was a vote of conscience, not strategy. It wasn’t a vote that was “thrown away”.
As the election results came in, it became very clear who would win our state. L- heard the results and was shocked that our candidate was not the chosen winner. She hasn’t become jaded yet. She also realizes that this was just a Primary and the Election is not for several months. Between now and then we will discuss more civics, and hopefully, she will have decided that she will not “die if he becomes president!”.