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On Voting Today

September 14, 2010

At the polling place this morning

Today is primary day in Washington, DC.  On the way to work this morning, I stopped in my neighborhood school to vote, my three-year-old in tow. In terms of time and effort, it was a little thing, really. It added all of  five extra minutes to my commute, not even counting the time getting the child in and out of the stroller. Yet I still felt a little surge of adrenaline as I left the voting booth–like I’d done something difficult and maybe even important.

Part of it is the leap of faith voting represents. I can’t know exactly what decisions the candidates would make if elected, but I do have an idea of the vision each candidate has for the future. By choosing one of the other I’m aligning myself with one of those visions–hoping first that the candidate would live up to his or her promises and second that the vision would lead to the consequences I want.

Part of it, too, is the ownership that comes from having voted. Those Founding Fathers were tricky psychologists, too. Even if my candidate doesn’t win, I still feel like I played a part in the process and have some stake in the government that results.

Does my one little vote really make a difference? Probably not. The races this year will almost certainly be decided by more than one vote. Without all the one votes, though, there wouldn’t be an election. Paradoxically, what matters is the collective decision by many people to vote, even if individually it doesn’t change the game.

For all these reasons, I make sure my kids see that voting is a Thing We Do in our family. I get a little annoyed at the one voter, one sticker rule that keeps my daughter from being able to say she voted, too. It’s an individual decision, but it’s also a collective one, and she played a part even if she’s not old enough to fill in the ballot.

One Comment
  1. Russell permalink
    September 14, 2010 12:26 pm

    May you look back at my age, like me, and say that you have voted in every election where you were eligible. And, yes, it does rub off on offspring, much to the satisfaction of my wife and I.

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