Why I'm voting

On Tuesday morning, I'll get out of bed, throw on some clothes and head directly to my neighborhood elementary school, where I'll try to beat the voter rush and cast my ballot for Kansas Legislature, U.S. Congress -- and president of the United States. I like this ritual; despite opportunities in recent years to advance vote, I've always waited until Election Day so I can step behind the flag-colored curtain, then step out to receive my "I Voted!" sticker.I've not been so sure it's worth casting a vote in the presidential election, to be honest. It's not that I don't think this election is important, and it's not that I don't think there are meaningful differences between the candidates. It's just that I live in Kansas, where (like most states) the winner of the popular vote takes all the electoral votes.In election years, though, my residency leaves me feeling impotent. No matter my feelings about who should be president, the Republican candidate will always -- at least in my lifetime -- always win Kansas. Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to win Kansas, and that was nearly a decade before my birth.I don't say this as a frustrated partisan -- I'm unaffiliated and I've never voted a straight-party ticket in my life -- but as a frustrated voter. Consider:¢ If I'm voting Republican, I'm just adding to the already overwhelming mass of votes my candidate is going to receive anyway.¢ If I'm voting Democrat, then I'm pissing into the wind.¢ And if I'm voting for a third-party candidate, well, you know.It's almost enough to make you want to move to swing state Missouri. What's the point of voting, in Kansas, for president?Well, there's a couple of reasons to do so.First of all, I'm going to be in the voter booth, anyway. Whatever happens at the presidential level, legislative and Congressional races can have narrow enough margins that my single vote could make a very real difference. Why not take the extra two seconds to fill in that last blank?My other reason has something to do with my being a writer. I don't know that any word I've ever written has ever had much impact or changed the world in any meaningful way -- but I know, as well, that I wouldn't be as satisfied with my life if I hadn't spent the last decade telling stories -- my own in this blog, and of the people who make up this community in the Journal-World and other newspapers.My vote, then, is my voice. Maybe a small one. Maybe one whose sound can barely be heard, if at all. But I'm not of a mind to be silent.See you at the polls.On another note My good Kansas City friend Joe Miller -- former Journal-World and Pitch Weekly writer -- has seen fit to recommend my blog on [his site.][1] I'd be remiss if I didn't return the favor. He's a brilliant, insightful and occasionally angry writer -- who also has a big book contract right now. I'm insanely jealous. [1]: http://www.kcsoil.blogspot.com/

Comments

OtherJoel 17 years, 8 months ago

I still got an "I Voted" sticker when I cast my advance ballot. It is much cooler to go on election day, I admit. This year it was the convenience factor, but I'll save the sticker for Tuesday so I can nag the stickerless masses to get their butts down to their polling place. Then I can go home and spend the evening yelling at Tim Russert and his dry erase board. Election night, for me, is kind of like watching KU during March Madness. Drinking may be involved (less these days than in years past, I must admit), I yell at the commentators, I cheer, I curse, but win or lose, I feel better knowing that I was there for my candidate/team.

And MAMAT, you just paraphrased one of my favorite slogans: "Don't vote? Don't bitch."

lazz 17 years, 8 months ago

Joel, I agree with you. I voted early, and did darken an oval in the presidential ballot. But I didn't vote for president; I voted for an elector, and because I voted with the minority, my vote doesn't count. Our collective thirst for participation is sated by voting; our collective sense of civic duty is filled to its red-white-and-blue gills when we vote. And this simply delays or dampens the urge to dump the Electoral College. A couple of weeks ago I heard an NPR broadcast about Indonesia conducting its first direct-elect presidential election. Well, Indonesia has now had one more than the good ol' United States of America, the world's oldest and finest "democracy". Perhaps I would be more motivated to do my bit dump the E.C. in favor of direct elections if I sacrificed that feel-good moment of voting.

MAMAT 17 years, 8 months ago

Count me among those who prefer marching into the actual booth, and a tad proud to get to do so! I was in Romania for awhile,singing. It was before the curtain fell, and there were guards and guns everywhere (along with gypsies and a very active black market). I happened to be there for a 4th of July. Although patriotism wasn't "IN" back then, especially with 20 something year olds, a group of us for the first time (for some for the last time in their life)felt a little homesick. So at a local restaurant we stood to sing the Star Spangled Banner. We were all crying before it was over, a little (drinking all that red wine ahead of singing didn't hurt either).

On your Pitch writer friend; that is the paper I prefer to read when it comes to actually getting an in depth story. I call it the NPR of the print world. Even people who have been "exposed" in the Pitch have had to admit that the paper did a really good job of telling the whole story! So congrats to a REAL writer (you're not too bad yourself Joel!)....

I gotta go listen to the Dave Chappel show!

VOTE if for no other reason so you don't lose the right to complain for the next 4 years (and say "I TOLD you not to vote for that man!).....

leslie 17 years, 8 months ago

I'm with you, Joel, with the love of the voting ritual. Not only do I always wait until election day, I make sure and do it when both of my kids are with me. I've known women who remembered when they weren't allowed to vote in this country; I always think of them when I take my ballot. Call me corny, but I get a tad sentimental about it.

And sure, our presidential choice doesn't count, but everything else sure does. Vote for the local level!

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