Monday, November 05, 2012

A Letter to My Daughters on Election Day

Diana and Calypso, I love you both dearly.  I love you fiercely.  I am proud of both of you for having the strength of will to pursue your respective dreams, sometimes in the face of great trial.  You are both intelligent young women who I believe will make a mark on the world.  I do have a bone to pick with both of you though...you have both opted to forgo your right and responsibility to vote today.

Diana, you have told me it is because you are so disgusted with the options out there.  So am I, but I am voting.  At the very least you've given up your right to complain about whoever governs you.  More than that you're saying you don't care who governs you.  This is entirely inconsistent with the personality of someone who has railed against authority since her first word as a baby (a very emphatic "no").

Calypso, you have told me you're not voting because you don't feel well-informed enough about the issues and candidates to make a responsible choice.  Whose fault is that?  You live in a world where it is a matter of a few clicks on the keyboard and mouse to have vast quantities of information available so you may inform yourself.  Yes, you live in a world where you feel rather inundated by the sheer volume of information and propaganda perhaps, but there is simply no excuse for someone who has easy access to information to claim ignorance.  Your ignorance is a choice and a sad one given your intelligence.

The two of you live on a planet where some women are denied their voices and choices, where they are not permitted in public without a male relative as an escort, where girls are shot in the head simply because they chose to go to school and gain an education.  These women and girls suffer and some die dreaming of having their educated voices heard, the right you have chosen to throw away.

Are women and girls half a world away too far-removed from your experience?  Ok, fine.  Let's bring it home.  You remember Nana, your great-grandmother.  She was born BEFORE it was legal for women to vote in our own country.  I remember my own great-grandmother who was already married and a mother of three before she was permitted to vote.  True they both have passed from this life but you have looked into the eyes of one of those women, been nurtured by her.  I had dreams and goals that were directly and personally encouraged by these women, for whom the right to vote did not exist for their full lifetimes.

Still too far away?  Too distant in the past?  Well try this on for size, kiddos.  In the last ten years I had a man my own age, born and raised in the USA tell me in all seriousness that he believed women should not have the right to vote but since they did they should have to vote in accordance with their father's wishes if they were single, or their husband's wishes if they were married.  In the last two years I had a patient at my former workplace tell me emphatically he expected his daughter to vote the way he dictated because he still paid her bills.  This is the here and now, my daughters.

You know my father and I have differences of opinion.  You have witnessed the political debates between your father and me.  I will be voting MY conscience and MINE alone.  No one else will decide my vote for me.  I raised you to follow your conscience too and it saddens me that you opt to not give it voice when it matters and when so many envy your opportunity and others would like to deny it.

The only wasted vote is one never cast.

20 comments:

Uncle Skip, said...

I hope they change their minds and vote... even if it's only to cancel each other.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Amen, sister. Voting is an obligation and a privilege.

Craig said...

Well, I just spoke with 3M (age 24), who was asking if I would accompany him to the polls, since he's never voted before. Which was news to me; he's opinionated enough that I figured he'd been voting all along. . .

Bijoux said...

We vote as a family, by absentee ballot. My girls don't have a choice about whether to vote. We force it on them!

Kat said...

Well said.
I am actually writing a post right now and how it is not only a right, it is a responsibility. This is a gift given to us and paid for with the blood of our forefathers and still defended by our soldiers today.

I am not happy with either of the presidential options either, if I'm honest, but I do my research and make as informed decision as I can.

Apathy is the worst offense.

Beach Bum said...

...I had a man my own age, born and raised in the USA tell me in all seriousness that he believed women should not have the right to vote...

Oh boy! And Americans look down on the Taliban as primitive.

Stephen Hayes said...

Voting is your ticket to the national bitchfest. If you don't vote you shouldn't complain.

Cricket said...

Wow. Great post, my dear.

Mine are only 6 and 10, and they have the day off from school today, mostly b/c lots of voting happens in the schools, not theirs, but it is a headache to have the kids there on election day so school is out.

As am I since I can be and they need minding.

Not to mention RI drivers come in 50 out of 50 for worst drivers in the nation, so the likelihood of a kid or two getting run over is not small.

Even so, my darling-dear assigned them each to write an essay today explaining who they would vote for if they could and why.

Dinner promises to be interesting.

A funny tag: one of my sons came up to me and announced "Dad, I think I'm a Socialist." I asked for clarification. He said he meant he liked people, parties &c. Ah. I said: "I think you mean sociaBLE... trust me, it's different."

Daryl said...

Brava! so well put, so true

back win Stevenson ran against Ike my dad got stuck at the office and didnt get home in time to vote .. when Ike won, Dad's BFF tortured him for 4 yrs saying it was his fault because EVERY vote counts ...

Daryl said...

when not win ... duh ...

haphazardlife said...

Great post. Everyone who decides not to vote should be obliged to read it. I remember my first vote, I had told my dad I wasn't voting because it really didn't change anything. He said, "You do realize people die for the right to vote, don't you? It's your choice, but I would be extremely disappointed if you didn't. Cancel your vote if you have to but vote."

I did, and I have every election since then.

Other Mary said...

Excellent. I'm heading out to vote in a few minutes.

Craver Vii said...

Lime, assuming your permission, I'd like to borrow some of your words to have a talk with my own daughter, who has decided not to vote.

I stop short of using language like "obligation" or "responsibility," but for Pete's sake--people died so that we can have this privilege!

(M)ary said...

Yep. I agree. even if you need to hold your nose while you do it., still need to vote. our country will survive thiseleqction and the next 4 Yeats but our cou.try won't survive of folks stop voting. crap.. trying to write this comment on my phone bit I can't see what I am typing so I may appear to be illiterate.

(M)ary said...

Stupid smart phone replaced Yeats for years. I hope this same technology is never used in future voting! We could be voting for Ivan and Ronny (yep those were my auto fill choices for the current candidates)

Jocelyn said...

I'm the wrong voice to chime in here, as I have been a despair and disappointment to all the Fine Citizens in my life many a time. Trying to get me to vote in college just about made one of my roomies pop a blood vessel in her eye.

I have voted now, a few times. I'm never sure I'll vote again. My aunt once noted, "Some day, there will be an issue, probably a local one, that matters to you. Then you'll vote." For me, gay marriage is a huge issue, and so I will always vote when it comes to attempting to protect or establish those rights.

Part of your girls' right to vote, at this stage in life, is also the right not to vote. Weirdly, it feels like a choice to them.

And one day, an issue will matter to them, probably a local one, and they'll vote.

coopernicus said...

and if that doesn't work for you, take your shoes off and get back in the kitchen....

Suldog said...

Among other truths, your last sentence is the most important. MY WIFE and I waited in line for 40 minutes to vote. It was worth every minute. We would have gladly waited twice as long (and MY WIFE will tell you that I hate to wait in line for ANYTHING. I've been known to walk away from restaurants when told it would be five minutes before a table was available.)

G-Man said...

Reese and I were at the polls at 7:30, and clocked in at work by 8:30....Nice Rant!

Rob said...

I don't necessarily agree that everyone who is eligible to vote should vote. Some are simply too ignorant to cast an informed vote. It is their responsibility to become educated on the candidates and the issues -- but if they choose not to do so, I'd rather they stay home and do whatever the hell else it is that they think is more important than becoming informed citizens. I believe that every American should jealously and fervently protect their RIGHT to vote, but only exercise that right if they can do so responsibly. I would no more encourage an uneducated, misinformed citizen to go and vote than I would encourage someone lacking in good judgment and self-control to go and exercise their second Amendment right to bear arms or someone intent on looting a business to exercise their right to free assemblly with other like-minded would-be looters!

As for the oft-repeated claim that people don't like ANY of the candidates up for election, well, welcome to the real world. The chance of ever finding an "ideal" candidate who espouses EVERYTHING that you (or anyone else) believes in is infinitesimally small. I've voted in a LOT of elections and I've never found someone that I considered "perfect" in every aspect of their belief system -- but, generally, one or another candidate will align in principal with more of the things I believe in than the other candidate(s). If anyone wants a perfect candidate to run, they need to throw their own hat in the ring next time and show us all how it's done. Using the excuse that someone "doesn't like anyone who is running" is just intellectually lazy and doesn't impress me at all. I'm OK with such people not voting because they are, by their very own admission, missing the point of a self-governing society with citizen-politicians entering into public service to represent others who share their beliefs. All that being said, people who don't vote have no room to complain about any aspect of government and how it impacts their lives. Hence, I won't have any patience for complaints from anyone I know who didn't vote yesterday in these next 4 years if they start to complain about the high price of gasoline, energy costs, a weak economy/difficulty in finding a good job, the level of the national debt being passed on to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, their religious freedoms being trampled on by an over-reaching federal government, or having to purchase health insurance or face an IRS-enforced fine, etc. They forfeited their right to whine about those or ANY other matters that result from getting the government that we deserve when they chose not to vote. They can just deal with it. Maybe in 4 years they will decide to become engaged. If not, they can continue to just let life roll over them like a tidal wave and suffer whatever consequences that brings.

Rant over.

Probably doesn't matter anyway since the world is due to end December 21st...