So, after staring at it for about a week now, I finally did the deed. With no further doubt in my mind, I filled out my mail-in election ballot, signed my name, sealed that puppy up, and stuck some stamps on the envelope. I am finished. Tomorrow I take it to the post office and drop it in the big blue box. All the research, reading, and referencing, all the discussions, drama, and debating about this election are officially behind me. It’s out of my hands. From here on out, I am free, free at last. Well…except for the non-stop political phone calls, television and online advertisements, and candidate postcards invading my household.
As I was sealing up the ballot, my youngest finally got interested in the whole election process.
“Mom, does everyone have to vote?” he asked.
“No, sweetie. No one has to vote, but voting is a right. It’s a privilege. It’s important. Why do you ask?”
“Because it kind of seems like a pain,” he said.
“What part, Luke?”
“Well, all the ads are kind of annoying,” he said.
“This is true,” I replied.
“Yeah,” Joe chimed in. “And people are going cuckoo.”
“What do you mean cuckoo?” I inquired.
“Well, everybody’s talking about it and fighting about it. Friends are all annoyed at other friends about it. I’m ready for it to be over with so people will stop talking about it and be nice again,” he replied.
He’s got a point. When it’s not election time, it does seem a wee bit easier to find peace with our neighbors, friends, and family who see things differently. This whole political process reminds us that things are complicated. Life is not black and white. There are no easy answers. The other night during the debate I was texting with a friend from college. She and her husband own a small business, and they are deeply concerned that Obamacare will put them out of business. That small business, passed down from a previous generation, is their retirement plan. They could lose it. There are no words I could say to her to make that situation any less miserable. But, just as she has her reason for casting her ballot, every other person I know has a different reason for casting theirs. Politics is a tough game. Nothing is equal or fair for everyone. That can make for difficult conversations between people who otherwise get along without a scrape. We all vote for what will best serve us. When the election is over, we may or may not get the benefit we thought we would receive when we cast our vote. All that posturing may be for nothing, but we try. We vote because we hope our needs will be heard. We hope we can help create change.
I will be relieved when I drop my ballot into a US postal service mailbox tomorrow. I’ll be glad to have played a part in this election. I’ll be counting the days until it’s all over, and we can all get on with our normal lives in the best way we know how without all the political hoopla. My boys are right. The election process is kind of a pain, but we wouldn’t be Americans without it. Freedom never came without a cost, and that’s exactly what I told them today.