I recently had a mind-numbing conversation with a young friend (28) who characterized voting as “stupid,” “waste of my time,” and and “don’t care enough.” She then spent the rest of the conversation trashing her family for voting for Romney. I told her if she thinks voting is stupid she has forfeited her right to criticize people’s voting choices.
If there is anything in civic life that I consider sacred, in the truest sense of the word, it is voting. The United States of America remains the great experiment in self-government. For a young person to so callously dismiss this sacred right makes my stomach hurt.
I voted for the first time in 1976. I have never missed a single election. I am such a hard case that I vote in Chicago mayoral primaries.
When my children were little, I used to bring them right into the voting booth with me (we had voting booths back then). I would explain what I was doing and why, and let them mark the boxes. The year Nga was 6, however, the precinct workers not only would not let me bring her into the booth, they would not allow her into the room, and in fact told me she would have to wait “outside.” I subsequently found out that children are in fact allowed into the voting booth with parents, and reported that precinct.
My son voted for the first time in 2004, in Ohio. Since he was living in a Democratic county at the time, he had to wait in line for 6 hours. My daughter’s first vote was in the historic 2008 election, which I very much envy her. I found it very moving to see her standing in the voting line (and yes I did the annoying “my baby’s first vote” thing.)
I am proud to say that my kids vote. Early indoctrination I guess. Seng Lim let his drivers license expire, but that voter registration is active. Nga’s registration got purged for some reason, so she devoted a day to go to the county and cast a grace-period ballot.
One generation back, they’re connected to one of the most repressive regimes on earth. If their grandparents hadn’t left China, they (or whomever it is they would have been), would not have this right. Hundreds of millions of people look on it with envy. They’re dying for it right now in Syria, and striving to hold fast to it in newly freed Libya, Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia.
The vote is a sacred thing. Use yours today.