Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Election Day Essay

I voted this morning.  I guess you can tell from the photo how I voted.  It reflects a lot of my values.  I believe in giving all of our kids the best education we can.  I believe in quality public schools, well-paid teachers and small classes.  I also believe in Head Start for kids born into less fortunate circumstances.  I believe in public television and public radio.  I believe in the arts.  I believe in a clean environment and conservation of wild places.

It isn't always easy for me to express myself about politics and values.  I grew up in a strictly Republican family. Once my grandfather insulted his sister by saying "My God, Ruth, you look like a Democrat".  Then the Vietnam war happened.  I was a student at Kent State when the National Guard shot and killed four students.  My Republican father was shaken to the core; he said "It could have been my own daughter they killed".  He lost faith in the Republican governor who had called in the guard.  He became disillusioned with Nixon.  I heard people blaming the students for protesting the war in the first place.  I heard a lot of people saying, "America, love it or leave it".

Well, the first time I voted, I voted for George McGovern.  My father was confused, conflicted.  He was shocked that his oldest daughter would vote for a Democrat.  He was beginning to have doubts of his own, though he never talked about it.  My mother is a devout Christian, who told me when I got divorced I would go to hell.  I had a dream of being in a Cathedral, looking up at the stained glass window.  Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck, shattering the window and shaking me awake with the crash.  I was guilty and afraid.

After I graduated from college and got married, I moved away from my midwestern roots.  I was exposed to many people with many beliefs.  My childhood beliefs were being challenged.  I had been taught by Catholic nuns as a child.  I got into trouble with a priest when Vatican II announced new rules, and I asked "does that mean all the people who went to hell for eating meat on Friday get out now?".  As many young people do, I questioned my faith throughout my college years.  I responded by reading a lot of books about all the religions of the world.  My ideas expanded to include many different possibilities.

Now I live in an area where my political leanings are in the minority... I live in a "Red State".  After living in a "Blue State" for a number of years, it hasn't been easy.  I am hesitant to share my ideas and my beliefs.  I am afraid people will "shun" me.  My own niece, when I told them who I voted for four years ago said, "you can't be in our family any more".  When my extended family came to my house for a holiday I put up a "NO POLITICS" sign because it makes me uncomfortable to have to defend myself.  I guess I am too sensitive, but I don't like conflict.  This election year has been full of conflict and hard feelings, and it breaks my heart.

So, what are the answers?  I don't know.  I just vote the way I believe and don't try to change the minds who believe differently from me.  For example, I don't say anything when my mother quotes Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.  I still love her, whatever she believes.  I wish more people could love each other no matter what they believe.  I wish I could be more sure that people will still accept me when they know what I believe.


the veg artist said...

This cheered me up no end. Unfortumately, though, what you describe within your family is how much of the rest of the world judges your country to be. Other religions and ways of life are just as valid as each other, and it's hard to stomach when some take up a superior higher ground. We are all born equal, after all.
Anyway. I'm typing this on Wednesday morning, so Congratulations!

Pam said...

Obama won!Congratulations Judy, you must be so pleased.
The campaigning trail of both Obama and Romney left me exhausted just watching the promotional side of the political machine in action, even from this distance. I'm happy that it's all over now, and with the result that reflects your values well.
I enjoyed reading about your family history!

judy in ky said...

Thank you both so much for your positive words. After I wrote the post I had second thoughts, maybe it was too personal, but I I just had to say it.

littlemancat said...

Hi Judy,
It's a good day! Our President won!
I am a blue state voter and am glad of it- Pennsylvania. Your comments made me appreciate it even more.
I think you're wonderfully patient not to comment back when family members quote Palin and that tribe.
To think of the world putting all Americans in that boat really bothers me.

judy in ky said...

Hi Mary, it's good to hear from you. I lived in PA for sixteen years and still miss my friends there. I wish i had been with them last night as they were celebrating.

rachel said...

What a wonderful attitude. I hope that those people who disagree with your views can understand and respect you for your integrity.