What a difference it makes to be retired. In past years, the polls opened too late for me to vote before work, and I had to join the beleaguered legions who voted after working all day. Standing in line, waiting for a polling station, watching the folks who faithfully serve by making sure each voter is in the right place, presents photo ID, is marked as having voted, and then at the end, is thanked for voting and receives a sticker in acknowledgement.
This year, as a retired person I was able to prance in mid-day with no lines, present my ID and step right into a polling station, drop my ballot into the counting machine, receive my thanks and sticker (after thanking the staff myself), and I was on my way – in less than five minutes.
Months of print and TV ads, junk mail, phone solicitations, Facebook rants, debates, TV interviews and press reports from every point of view have culminated in a few brief strokes, and my work is completed.
My responsibility to listen, sort the wheat from the chaff, and make a decision is over. Across the US, many thousands are still in the process of completing that obligation. And it is an obligation. We have the incredible right to exercise our voices and to vote according to our consciences and free will, and with every right comes a responsibility.
If we want the right to rant or whine, or to dissent in any way, then we must take part in the process. If we want the right to write to our congressmen and state our cases, then we must exercise our votes as well. In my state, many of the results are considered to be foregone conclusions – but that doesn’t mean any of us are exempt from placing our votes.
If you’re frustrated and don’t think your vote matters, think of it another way. Think about American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. How many times has it seemed obvious who would be “voted off,” until the popular votes were tallied? We can be surprised. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, in the words of the immortal Yogi Berra.
So I will now turn on my TV and watch the probably predictable results of my local battles, and await with extreme interest the will of the people in the national election. If you live in the US and haven’t voted yet, get thee to your polling place.
For this year, my work here is done.