I wore my “I voted” sticker to a meeting my boss, Larry Wilson, and I had with two members of The Consulate General of The People’s Republic of China. But I think the meaning was lost on them.
After inking my vote for school board in Temple City, a poll worker told me I was the 21st person to vote that morning. Not too many, I’m afraid. Most reported voter turnout for Tuesday’s election of school boards and city councils was well below 20 percent of the registered voters.
Pitifully low. Pathetic.
“And we have men and women in Iraq fighting for their right to vote, but we can’t get even a majority of our citizens to do the same,” I said to him.
I still get goosebumps when I vote. To me, it is the most patriotic thing I’ve ever done (since I have not served in the military). In some ways, it’s amazing that anybody, a parent, a mom, a dad, a young college graduate, can run for school board or city council and get elected. These people decide on the most tangible issues in our lives: our law enforcement, fire departments, trash pickups, school curricula, teachers, etc. Yet, most voters don’t care enough to vote.
I recall a YouTube item — an interview with now famous YouTube political commentator James Kotecki, and presidential hopeful Mike Gravel, a senator from Alaska, in which Gravel proposed that American voters vote directly on ending the war in Iraq. He chewed out Kotecki, who said Gravel’s direct democracy idea was anathema to the Founding Fathers, who set up a representative government. We elect someone to represent us in the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate (that was changed to a direct election later on) and the president (though that’s not direct election, but it’s close).
I agree with Kotecki. America’s foreign policy shouldn’t be a political referendum.
In America, anyone can run for office. I’ve seen that in the candidates I’ve interviewed this fall. It’s a privilege for us not running to vote for those we like. We’re having enough trouble convincing voters to do that, let alone vote up or down on a war.
As I stood at the voters table and put my “John Hancock” next to my printed name, I was buoyed by what I saw. The name of my son, Matthew, who had turned 18 a month ago, appeared on the line next to mine.
He voted later that day.