The vote.

Dear friends,

In 1916, my grandmother Marie was an 18-year-old girl living in Oklahoma. As such, she was denied the right to vote in that year’s presidential election between Woodrow Wilson and Charles Hughes. (Interestingly, Oklahoma was one of 30 “blue” states that carried Wilson to the White House. My how times have changed!)

I have often reminded myself that a mere two generations separate my grandmother and me from the right to vote, and I hold  precious the right to have a say at the ballot box.

Therefore, it won’t surprise you that I have emphasized that point to my daughter repeatedly, including in no less than three text messages last week in which I urged her to register in time for the upcoming election. “It’s your first presidential election!” I implored. “It’s a milestone in your life you don’t want to miss.”

Despite my strong views on politics, I have tried to be a bi-partisan parent. Whenever Mr. Mom and I have discussed the subject of politics with our children, we have always followed our “this is my view” comments with alternative arguments. (Since Mr. Mom and I don’t always agree, we sometimes stand as alternative arguments for each other!)

So it surprised me to get a text from Kate while she was registering to vote last week asking the question “Am I a Republican or Democrat?”  I had to chuckle because no one could argue I’ve brainwashed her.

“I don’t know,” I texted back. “You have to decide for yourself.”

Like so many children, when I first registered, I aligned myself with the party of my parents. Lifelong Republicans, my parents represented two extremes of the party. My father is very conservative and my mother was far more liberal. (My social-justice streak certainly comes from my mother who was a letter-to-the-editor-writing champion of the disadvantaged.) But both wore the GOP hat and so did I. Until I moved to Boston.

Living for two years in my early 20s in a state like Massachusetts shaped my worldview. It was a place where old money, new immigrants, and liberal politics (featuring the likes of Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank) were the ingredients for an alluring blend of cultural goulash. While there, I switched parties and have remained a Democrat throughout my adulthood.

Still, I expect my children to form their own views and draw their own conclusions about candidates, about political ideology, about public policy.

I was busy at work when Kate texted me about her potential affiliation, so after I told her to decide for herself, I missed her follow-up text asking which party the President belongs to.

I later learned from Mr. Mom that Kate subsequently texted her boyfriend for help. I chuckled again thinking that’s probably better anyway.

I’ll let him take the fall for any bad advice.

With gratitude {for all my rights as a US citizen, including suffrage},

Joan, who looks forward to voting in her 8th presidential election and hopes her daughter appreciates the vision and fortitude of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who said “The heyday of a woman’s life is the shady side of fifty”

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Comments

  1. Hopefully your daughter’s first presidential election will sell her on participating in the process lifelong. Even though I am rapidly approaching gray panther territory I hate to think of our elections being determined solely by the oldest cohort of voters. No thank you!

    I’ve similarly been urging my grown kids to make sure they will vote. Our family exists as a blue dot in a red sea of a state so thanks to the electoral college system our votes could be considered as “wasted”. That leads to a lot of built in apathy towards national elections…but. I maintain if they don’t vote they don’t get to complain about anything government related in my hearing. EVER. Considering what complainers we all are? Maintaining their right to air grievances is a powerful motivator.

  2. Deb, I don’t know a single person who supports the electoral college (except for maybe presidential candidates). I don’t know for the life of me why we don’t move to a popular vote.

    • Interesting thing – when I started to google the topic, I only got 4 words in “why don’t we (abolish the electoral college)” when it pulled up automatically. Clearly there are a lot of people with similar frustrations.

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