The election is nearing and we will soon go to polls and choose a vision for the future of our country.
Whenever such an opportunity is at hand, I reflect back on family stories centered around elections.
In the early days of our country, people actually had a passion about the right to vote and exercising thereof. I guess since there were still those who could remember living without that right whether here or in their home country or whose parents’ described the experience of having no such right to them.
By the mid-1800s, the rights were extended beyond property owners, and by 1870s eliminating prohibition on voting due to race, color or previous servitude. But for many the right was still out of reach and that passion re-emerged during the suffrage movement for women and then again insuring the rights already promised were delivered during the civil rights movement for African Americans.
My grandmother joined in the passion of the suffrage movement anxiously wanting to place her vote when the opportunity came after the passage of the 19th amendment, she could not wait for her chance to pull the curtain. After finishing making breakfast for the family, she headed off on foot to her poll where she proudly cast her ballot. It was years later, she told me that part of the joy of that moment was voting for a different candidate than my grandfather wanted to win thus cancelling out his vote. She finally was able to have her choice and not just have to go along.
Today, many treat voting as a nuisance, something that you only do if it convenient, or if you happen to like one of the candidates.
I hope I am not mixing up my stories but as I recall in one branch of our family, one section of the family was so passionate about the candidate running for president in the late 1800s, that when news that another cousin might vote for his opposition, they kidnapped the cousin to keep him from voting. This resulted in his closer kin retaliating to get him back resulting in some passionate exchange of gunfire until the matter was settled. I don’t remember if there were any deaths in this enthusiasm.
However, in another polling place disagreement, a battle erupted between adversary kin outside a local polling place, once again over political philosophies, resulting in, as best I recall, the final deaths in a family feud that spanned two centuries.
Passion and politics have long walked hand in hand. We have seen much passion exhibited during this season. I hope if nothing else occurs in the next few weeks, something that you hear, something you see, moves you not to take this right we have for granted. Exercise it. Be like my grandmother who walked miles to vote. Vote for whomever you feel will lead our country, your community, in the direction you desire us to go.
Men and women fought, marched, and died to give us this right. Don’t let all those sacrifices be for naught.