I remember going with my mom to vote. As a pre-schooler, I was particularly intrigued by the curtain she had to step behind with her ballot. Even more intriguing was the fact that my parents’ polling place was a cemetery—my mom always laughed at the irony of voting at a cemetery in the suburbs of Chicago, a city famous for voter fraud that involved dead people casting votes.
We, too, always try to bring our children when we vote. We do this not for convenience’s sake, but for vision’s sake. We want our kids to understand the great privilege and responsibility that voting is.
I remember taking my two year old to vote in the 2008 primary. We parked in a pouring rain, and then we waited over an hour to cast our vote. A true patriot, she hardly complained. A few months later, we took our six week old twins in their double stroller to vote in the 2008 presidential election.
As many have noted, this year’s interminable election season has been remarkably ugly. As a country, we have sunk to new lows. Large numbers of us are deeply dissatisfied with the presidential choice we face today.
The reality, though, is that these are truly “first world problems.” Troubled as our political system is, fractured as our republic seems today, we still have the immense privilege of residing in a democracy. We still get to vote. And we can still expect that our votes will be counted.
I love everything about voting—not only do I get to join fellow citizens in line, but I get to do so in one of the institutions that undergirds our democracy. In my voting years, I have cast votes in a church, a synagogue, and a school. How beautifully American! Today, I stood in line with neighbors of different ages and colors, each holding their ballot and their citizenship with pride.
Not one of us should take this citizenship for granted. Millions around the world covet it. On this day of fear and deep ambivalence, may we also give thanks that we can yet vote, that we have been so blessed as to live in this still young democracy experiment, only in its 240th year.
©Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things, 2016.