8/10/16

Why Voting Makes Me Cry

sweaty votes count!


Ahhh...politics! Such an engaging, pleasant topic that always brings people closer together.

LOL.

I don't talk politics on my blog or on Facebook. Many of my friends have differing views and opinions and since I'm both a Libra and a Minnesotan, conflict of any kind makes me twitchy. I will "like" political posts, and depending upon where I am in my cycle, will comment on them (comment sections are like Midol for me)...but I tend to go old school where this type of conversation is concerned: keep it close to my vest. If someone were to ask me, point blank, then yes, I'd spill the beans. But until then, let's stick to generalities.

*starts singing Kumbaya*

I am an Easy Weeper. Tears don't need much coaxing from me, they seem to be at the ready 24/7. It's not really a surprise then, that I found myself dabbing some of those salty droplets from my eyes a few nights ago, after exiting the local polling place.

I had just voted in a seemingly "unimportant" primary: the one which will determine who gets to be on the general ballot for the Minnesota Supreme Court election. My friend Andrea, who is an attorney, sent out an email urging people to vote and I'll be frank: if it wasn't for the email it might have slipped my mind, entirely. Come on: it's August, the summer air is steamy and turbid, we're all already sick and tired of hearing about elections.

But her words touched me, and after I was done with the evening's carpool duties I dragged my swampy ass (sorry, no a/c in my car) to the tiny fire station where I have been voting for a better part of my adult life.

I was the sole voter in there, the election judges and other voting day personnel seemed bored but delighted to see me. The entire process took about two minutes, they gave me my sticker and then I got into the oven/car where I promptly began a soft weep.

Crying a little after voting is nothing new, so it wasn't completely unexpected. I'm one of those moms who proudly dragged a herd of writhing children into the polls with me, daring anyone to make a comment about the audacity of kids being in such an important, adult-ish place. Showing my brood that their mom made her civic duty a high priority was key. And also it was always fun to have them fight over who got the "I VOTED" sticker. GOOD FREAKING TIMES. Bless the hearts of the kindly sticker-givers who handed out more than one, right? More than once I cried in my car after those experiences.

My mom might not have done a stellar job protecting me as child, but one thing she did do was stress the importance of voting. As a teacher and a rider of the Women's Lib wave of the 60's and 70's she was obviously a liberal-leaning Democrat and that's what I soaked up. Imagine her surprise and delight, then, when my succession of boyfriends and then eventual husband/baby daddy were staunch Republicans. And imagine her disappointment when I decided they were right in more ways than one.

As life wore on I learned that my father was a diehard Republican. Aha. Freud is pursing his lips and stroking his beard somewhere right now, I tell you. Vy don't ve discuss your fazzer some more, Jenny.

After my divorce, I no longer had someone there telling me why "we" should vote one way and not the other. During the time I was a financially comfortable SAHM certain issues which didn't affect me weren't even blips on my radar screen. When I became a financially uncomfortable single mom struggling to raise 4 human beings on my own, those same issues not only showed up on my radar, they invited themselves in and had a seat. Shortly after I cast my vote in the 2008 presidential election, and proudly announced it, my former-BFF burst through the front door of my house. She was livid, screaming at me for making such an idiotic choice. She leaned against a wall and sank down onto her haunches, crying "When my family is homeless in four years, I guess we'll have you to thank." Seeing as how now, 8 years later, she and her hubby own two homes, she doesn't work and their kids drive nicer cars than me, I'm thinking they're doing just fine. 

But anyhoo. Let's not get into left and right and all other angles and sides here. As several annoying memes have told us, we aren't going to change anyone's mind with silly things like words and facts and ideas on the Internet.

What we can do, though, and I wish more people would, is TALK ABOUT VOTING. Brag about it, take selfies, share polling locations and times, email, text, post. Social media is such an odd beast, right? Who would have thunk that there'd come a day when we'd be taking pictures of our dinners and putting it out there for all the world to see? If we can use this medium for such trivial things, why can't we use it for more pressing matters? Don't get me wrong: I love a good shot of a cheeseburger just as much as the next lady but I also love to see people flexing their 'Merica Muscles. It may feel as though we don't have voices in this system, that we are less-than cogs in a bloated, vile and corrupt machine but dammit: people died for this right. Women? We have only been able to vote since 1920. For some of us, that means our grandmothers were alive when women had zero say in who represented us in the government. Can you even imagine? I can't.

Maybe that's why I cry when I vote. Thinking about all of those brave, strong ladies who sat there in their un-airconditioned houses, taking care of a million kids and husbands and elderly relatives and doing it all without a single one of the modern conveniences even the brokest of us now enjoy and said "WTF? My voice doesn't matter? Umm...bullshit, fellas." Okay, so they probably didn't actually say that but they did eventually say something, and thank goodness they did.

Or maybe I cry because there are women in other countries who just recently, some as recently as THIS YEAR, were granted the right to vote. Yep. 2016 and women in Saudi Arabia can finally vote. Still can't drive, wear makeup or open up a freaking bank account without their husband's permission, but baby steps, right? (spoiler alert: this might be why I cry because as I typed this out I started bawling. Tell your daughters how LUCKY THEY ARE!)

I do know they aren't tears of regret. Not once have a looked back and thought to myself, Jenny? That was a total waste of time. Even when the results aren't what I wanted, I know that by voting I earned the right to bitch about it.

This upcoming election is already proving to be one of historical importance, even if only for the amount of chaos and mudslinging produced thus far- and we haven't seen the worst of it yet. Just wait until Saturday Night Live comes back!

This fall, I will be casting my vote for our next President. Three of my four children will be doing so, as well.

I predict the tears falling after this one will be monumental. Whether they're happy or sad tears, that's up to us.

PLEASE VOTE, MY FRIENDS.








9 comments:

  1. I was that annoying mommy, too. I took my kids with me to vote. I wanted them to see what it was like and to see that I took it seriously. (I'm also an easy crier. The national anthem kills me every single time. and commercials, and blurbs in the newspaper and silly memes and......you know what I'm talking about)

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    1. Me too. My boys can't take me anywhere where there's any sort of patriotic song playing. Comes I suppose because I had the opportunity to live out of country for a bit. Opens the eyes,that it does.

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    2. Ditto on taking the kids with me to vote and ditto for crying at the drop of a hat - probably literally if the hat was dropped by a sweet old man or a kitten. If there still was a world where professional mourners were needed, I would be sitting pretty, despite the red nose and watery eyes. It's crazy how easily I cry! Love this voting post - will be sharing with many!

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  2. This brought tears to my eyes. And you are so right, no one has the "right to bitch" if they don't vote! VOTE!

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  3. I live in Ireland our voting system is different but as you stated so so important . This was a beautiful read and an important one - thank you

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  4. I always tear up after I vote, too. (Although here in Washington State, it's a bit different because we have mail-in voting. It's way easier but kind of anticlimactic because you DON'T get a sticker when you're just sitting at your kitchen counter filling out the ballot. ;-) ) But I do it for the same reason you do: people died for that right. I don't take it lightly. And my grandmother was born in 1907 so she was in one of the first generations of women to benefit from the right to vote.

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  5. Great message woman!! I vote even when I hate the candidates because there was a chunk of time I wasn't allowed to vote (stupid court judgment). Plus, my g-ma was born in 1914 so she was one of the firsts to do so as a female. I hope everyone reads this post!

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  6. AMEN, Jenny! Beautifully said. I almost wasn't going to vote on Tuesday either, using the lame-ass excuse "well, I don't really have time". As soon as I thought that to myself though, I realized how lame-ass an excuse it was, and immediately gave myself the lecture "No time...really?! It'll take what, all of 10 minutes? Look, MY FOREMOTHERS DIDN'T SUFFER AND IN SOME CASES, GO TO JAIL OR EVEN DIE SO I COULD STAY HOME ON ANY ELECTION DAY LYING TO MYSELF THAT 'I DON'T HAVE TIME TO VOTE.' NOW STOP THE BS, GET MY SORRY ASS TO THE POLLS, AND VOTE DAMMIT!" And I did, and wore the little red and white sticker proudly!! My parents were always very politically and civilly aware and I soaked it up from them. And when I first learned as a kid about how we women couldn't even vote till 1920 (through Schoolhouse Rock!), I pretty much resolved to vote no matter what, at least in all the presidential elections. 40 years later, and having been old enough for 31 years to vote, I've not only made it to every even-year election, but most if not all of the primaries and even the vast majority of the odd-year, local offices-only elections. I will always vote and I have zero patience for anyone who won't!

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  7. What people really forget is the men and women of the armed forces that gave and have preserved your right to vote. This goes to the business guys, the soccer moms, the college students and to all the other people that think they have struggled and fought for something.

    The question is,What are people really willing to give up to make it better?


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