Tuesday I took advantage of the call to vote early. I'm glad I did. That first week in November is going to be a medically rough one for me and this is one election I didn't want to miss, yet I left the polling place feeling a little sad. It wasn't just that a group of seniors were eating their lunch a few feet from the polling place and the little voting station where I marked my electronic ballot was parked in front of the only access to the coat closet and people kept pushing me aside to reach their coats, or that the voting machine seemed to have a dying battery causing it to take long, long pauses before accepting the choices I pushed. It just didn't feel the same.
To me election day has always been a special day, a sort of national holiday where Americans join together to express our pride in being Americans. There is a kind of prestige in wearing a sticker proclaiming "I voted!" I like standing in line with friends and neighbors in a sort of camaraderie that proclaims "we're Americans and we know our duty!"
I've had an interest in politics since I was a child and first spotted an "I like Ike" sign on the back of an old Hudson parked on our small town's Main street. I've voted in every election since I was old enough to vote. I've attended mass meetings and caucuses, held voting district and legislative district offices, been a delegate, worked as a page for the legislature, and as a reporter I got to meet many presidents, governors, and big name politicians. I've worked on the campaigns of winners and losers. However, this year I think the campaign has been too long and too negative. I don't like the horrible ads sponsored by PACs and outside groups. I'm glad it's winding down, but I feel more jittery and nervous about the results than usual. It just seems there is so much at stake this time.
In my early teens I had the opportunity to serve at a banquet where the governor of Idaho was the guest of honor. I was thrilled to be assigned his table. I noticed there was no butter on the table and hurried to remedy the situation. Just as I approached his table with a tray of butter, a lady approached him from the other side. He abruptly stood, bumped my tray, and the butter slid down the front of his suit.
When Ronald Reagan was his party's nominee for President he visited Utah and I had the privilege of walking with him down that long hall at the Salt Palace and conducting him to the private banquet room where he was expected. My husband and children were to meet me there and they arrived while we were strolling down that hall, he took the time to shake hands with each of them and laugh and talk with my family for a few minutes before we continued on.
Chosen as a delegate to a conference in Washington DC I was impressed by the charming, able young governor from a Southern state who emceed the main meetings. Not many years later Bill Clinton was elected President.
Most people don't follow politics as closely as I do and that's all right. In this country you only have to be over eighteen and a citizen to vote, but it helps a great deal to be informed. That includes taking most political ads with a grain of salt and ignoring the big mud slams of the last few weeks of a campaign. And with all of the national hype, a voter might think picking the right presidential, senatorial, and representative are all that matter. Important as these offices are, remember the positions closest to home often impact us the most. Choose wisely and be sure to vote!