Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Country 'tis of These Are My Only Options?

While going to vote today, my wife and I decided to bring my sons along. This decision wasn’t based on a drive have them witness their parents perform their civic duty. The stars and stripes were not waving in the background as God Bless America played, our sons watching us with a mixture of awe and pride as we completed our ballots.

Their presence next to us as we filled in the gap in the black arrow with a magic pen, causing me to feel like a preschooler participating in a spatial reasoning exercise, was entirely due to the fact that the time we had dedicated to vote coincided with the time immediately after we picked them up from school.

Still, having them there was special. Granted, we had to deny multiple requests for their own ballots and had to tell them they could not fill in our ballots for us, but it was still cool that they saw the whole process.

I feel like, in a small way today, we taught them lessons. We taught them that you need to speak up. We taught them that every voice in this great nation counts for something. We taught them that you need to participate. We taught them that you can’t complain if you didn’t at least try to do your part.

And the lessons don’t stop after the election night results are in. Far from it. In fact, they continue on for months, even up to the next round of elections. Some may say these lessons are the most important.

My sons can watch the aftermath and learn that just because you are the most popular doesn’t mean you are the best. They will learn that you don’t have to be smart to be in charge of a lot of people of a lot of money. The months to follow will show them what happens when you don’t keep your promises. And in the elections two years from now, if they pay attention, they will see how short the memory of many people really is and how you can completely screw things up but still be given a second chance.

“Who are you voting for?” one of my sons asked me as he looked at all the campaign signs on the way into my polling place.

“I’m going to vote for the jerk who daddy doesn’t think is as big a jerk as the other jerk,” I replied. “And that’s the best I can do.”

Yes, my sons got the chance to witness the American dream first hand as I valiantly and patriotically chose who I perceived to be the lesser of two (and sometime three or four) evils. Where else but in America can you decide to run for an office (let’s say, completely hypothetically, Lieutenant Governor), drop out of that race due to being exposed as a domestic violence offender who carouses with strippers and owns several questionable pawn shops, and then decide to run for a higher office (let’s say, oh, I don’t know, Governor)?

I ask again. Where? Nowhere, that’s where.

God bless America.

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