Practice Makes … Ummm

Posted by Jen on October 18, 2008 in Lessons Learned, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of..., Rants |

Husband and I received our practice ballots in the mail recently. Let me just say that I’m a huge fan of these little wonders full of election jargon. Big fan.

See, I’ve tried to vote “cold” – you know, read the ballot for the first time when I step into the booth. While America as we know it didn’t end, I didn’t exactly hold up my end of the civic duty bargain. It was sort of the equivalent of phonin’ it in! Probably didn’t make those behind me in line too happy either.

Now, this post may be political as I’m gonna get in a public forum. Don’t worry, I don’t think you’ll need to turn the children away. As a matter of fact, I think I’d like everyone to pass this on!

I think I’ll jump into this with one of my more controversial political statements of the season. I don’t think this is “the most important election of our generation”. Yep, it’s true. I think the importance of this whole thing is a chip dip combination of media hype mixed with more than a little well-justified nervousness. Makes for yummy news coverage and lots of drama.

Yes, it’s true that we are very likely to elect either the first African-American president or the first female vice-president. The fact that this is true makes this election historic and, well, very cool.  (By the way, I say likely here because, according to my practice ballot, there are choices other than Obama and McCain. Who’s dissecting everything they say? Why weren’t they debating?)

Most important though? Ummm … not so much, I think. I have quite a few very politically active friends and I know this election is putting everyone on “high alert”. It’s actually been fascinating. Still, most important? …  sorry, not so much.

Here’s my thing. I think EVERY election is the most important election of any given generation. Why? Because, frankly, nobody has one clue what is going to happen in the future. Nobody knows how anyone running for election will repond to whatever the world throws their way (in quiet moments, I think all but the cockiest of candidates would tell you that truth). Nobody knows how well the combination of winners will work together in the highs and lows of this whole thing (there’s a rant for later in that statement).

Bottom line? Nobody knows. So, if we don’t stand ready to reconsider what we “know”, where we are, and how we got there? … well then we are in for one well-deserved smack right in the kisser. I think that’s the importance of this  and every election - consideration, thought, study, and THEN action. The order of that list is important.

In every time of choice, people choose to participate or abdicate. Yep, those are the ends … there’s a lot going on in the middle! But the point is that there are ripple effects to the choices each of us make (and I’m not just talking about the selections made in the voting booth). 

Where an individual falls on the participation continuum is a personal choice made for any number of reasons. Not voting doesn’t necessarily signal apathy any more than rabidly campaigning signals full participation in the system. The choices and the reasons behind them are just as telling as who we elect – and are maybe even more important for our furture successes.

So, I’m practicing. I’m reading and considering all manner of legislation and amendment options. I’m reading all about candidates who claim they know what to do to fix ________ (insert mess or perceived mess here). I’m looking at patterns and history and, yes, character. It all plays a role. I’m filling out my ballot so that I’ll be prepared when it’s time to give my opinions. Hopefully, they’ll be educated.

I’ve got no delusions (wait, yes I do, but they aren’t political in the slightest). Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect here. That’s OK. Because my personal grade in this civics lesson is all about participation!


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