November 02, 2012

Why I Vote: A Multi-Blog Event

Today, around the kidlitosphere, you're likely to see a lot of voting-related blog posts. What you won't see is proselytizing, muckraking, mudslinging. What you WILL see is a wide range of inspiring personal stories along the theme of "Why I Vote." Thanks to Colleen, Lee, and Greg for revisiting this multi-blog effort to get out the vote, after a successful Blog the Vote event in 2008. Go check out the master post roundup and pass it on to all your friends and family, especially those who aren't sure they'll vote. No matter who or what we're for or against, voting is the most basic way we make our voices heard in this country. And, as my husband often puts it, it gives you the right to complain. If you don't vote, quit complaining!

The right to complain isn't why I vote, though. I vote because I am lucky to be part of a politically active and interested family. When I was little, my mother would bring me with her to the polling place--often in some devoted volunteer's garage--and I'd see the excitement, the people going in and out of the little voting booths, and I already looked forward to being a part of it. It wasn't just a matter of getting a neat "I voted" sticker. Voting was a fact of life, and there was no question that I'd one day do it.

My father, too, has always been politically active. He loves to talk politics--argue politics, really--and although I'm sure part of that is due to innate interest, I also know he's aware of the privilege of voting as a U.S. citizen, because he was not born in this country. He became a naturalized citizen when I was small, and I can't remember a time when he wasn't a fan of reading about politics, watching the news at full volume...and baiting my mother, since they supported opposing parties.  And since he retired, he's become even more involved, helping a local L.A. area politician run for state Senate--a fellow Pakistani-American; supporting and attending local interfaith community events. And, of course, he still loves to have those political arguments.

So, yes, staying informed about current events was a fact of life in my house when I was growing up. But it wasn't just my parents. I played my part, too. When I was in high school, I was a member (and ultimately vice-president) of the Junior Statesmen of America, even attending regional conventions and leading debates and discussions, so there was no way I was NOT going to vote when I became of legal age. And then, I went on to attend college at UC Berkeley, one of the more politically active campuses in one of the most politically active cities I can think of. Compared to people I knew there, I was one of the least active with respect to causes and issues. Believe me, you get burned out pretty quick when people are shoving Food Not Bombs or Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary flyers into your face whenever you cross Sproul Plaza.

But the one thing I did do, the one thing I've done without fail (except for one eensy weensy local ballot) is VOTE. I always vote. I always read the pamphlet, I always do extra research if the voter information they send me isn't enough, and I always cast a reasonably informed ballot. Yes, part of that is because I'm a huge nerd, but it is also incredibly important. The why of it isn't always tangible, especially when you're just one vote among millions. But that's why I'm sharing my voting story--what it's meant to me, what I think of when I think about being politically active and an informed citizen. It is what you make of it, and this country is what we make of it. WE THE PEOPLE, each one of us, is a piece of the giant, unwieldy, amazing, incredible jigsaw puzzle that is E pluribus unum--out of many, one. The question is, do you want to be a part of it?


tanita davis said...

Junior Statesmen! I could see this. ☺

Joy Weese Moll said...

I love how many posts tap into the history of voting. And it doesn't matter if that history is one generation or twenty generations. Voting reminds us we're all Americans.