Saturday, October 31, 2015

election day

There's an off-year election around here next Tuesday. As usual, my ignorance of both candidates and their issues is enormous. I am too old to be ashamed, but that doesn't mean I can't think about voting and elections. I sent what follows off to the newspaper, but it's a bit of writing that should have been conceived some days ago in order to consider publication.

Here's the mumbling:

When Election Day rolls around, my kids' eyes glaze over with a long-suffering patience that reads "old fogey:" They know I will encourage them to vote irrespective of their clear impression that their vote will make precisely no difference, so why bother?

And anyone reading these words may think that they are about to be harangued with yet  another flag-waving, goodie-two-shoes encouragement that blathers on and on about the "greatest country in the world" or "a privilege and responsibility that goes with citizenship." But patriotism does not impress me much: Too much of what passes for patriotism relies on deriding someone else's point of view.

Yes, I plan to vote on Tuesday, but that vote does not mean I believe in the latest versions of enunciating promises no one is likely to keep -- platforms with the same "transparency" and "hope" and "change" we heard about during the last voting cycle.

I am going to vote not because someone else says I "should" be a responsible citizen who takes the trouble to investigate the issues and familiarize myself. I'm an average guy who is busy enough and really am unlikely to get my dander up about some wayward salamander or the veiled hypocrisies that waft through any government. I am as lazy as my kids ... don't pester me with vague virtues. Tell me the price of bread will drop and you have my attention.

But despite all of my lackadaisical understandings, still I plan to vote. National, local ... yes, I will vote. I plan to vote because Election Day offers me a concrete opportunity to reflect and acknowledge my participation in the environment where I live. Failure to acknowledge this participation -- whether it's a vote for president or a vote for the dog catcher -- is a mark of stupidity and I already have enough stupidities to cope with.

Election Day may be another (wo)man's patriotic delight or idiotic bit of uselessness, but for me it is a time to take a personal responsibility I cannot elude. Lazy or energetic, informed or ignorant, social activist or unredeemed couch potato -- this is the environment I am part of and contribute to. Not to acknowledge and accept responsibility for my world -- as, periodically, on Election Day -- reduces me in my eyes.

It's a personal preference and I will continue to play the old fogey with my children because I don't want them to waste time trying opt out of who they actually are.

Grow up! Vote.