My Vote

This past summer, we adopted Bella the kitten. We adopted Bella despite the fact that our older cat, Alice Cooper, became our cat when she was put up for adoption years ago because she was unable to tolerate being part of a multi-cat home when her owner moved in with his significant other, who owned cats. Bella has been methodically destroying and stinking up our house since she came, but hopefully she will redeem herself by, as the sign above promises, supporting my politics.

As I have watched months and months worth of Facebook statuses and Tweets roll by, I have not chimed in often. For me, I find it too difficult to communicate the nuances of various opinions in a status that I am pretty sure will be “liked” by the people who already agree with me and attacked (or ignored) by the people who don’t. I suspect that Facebook statuses and tweets rarely convince someone on the other side to change course, and I am not sure they do a lot to educate the undecided voter.

One week-long trip to a third -world country does not an expert on world politics make but when I visited Guatemala in July 2011, presidential campaigning was underway. Tensions were heightened, but they weren’t just tensions about the latest polling. Election time there created a very real danger for personal safety. One of the travelers in our group bought a hat at a political rally we had passed in Guatemala City’s Central Plaza. Our leader asked him not to wear that hat; it would have been dangerous to us, and dangerous to the organization’s non-political mission to serve children and families in Guatemala to be perceived as showing support for any particular candidate. We heard that one way the drug industry gets a foothold is by having their operatives elected as mayor of smaller communities which creates a feeder system into the higher offices. We have our issues here in the US but we are able to support whichever candidate we choose, knowing our personal safety is not at stake and that there are checks and balances on corruption (flawed as they may be).

I am ridiculously, deeply, unabashedly patriotic. When my kids were little, I probably got more excited about “Kids Voting” than my kids did. I made sure they never missed a chance to vote. I inwardly rolled my eyes when my kindergartner chose a candidate who I did not plan to vote for “because he looks nice.” But it’s never too early to demonstrate to our children that voting is not an “option,” it is a responsibility. And as my daughter has gotten older, I see her learning to ask good questions about the candidate options. Even if she and I never agree on candidates, I hope she plans to show up every time the polls open.

Lastly, we all know one person can’t change things singlehandedly. I see the layers upon layers of frequently superfluous bureaucracy and the maze of subcontractors that have become part of many federal programs and wonder if anyone out there, whether it is the president, an agency head, or my elected representatives, are willing to say: We have to take a step back and figure out how to do what has to be done, without becoming hidebound by all of the “barnacles” that accumulated between this project being a fabulous idea and it being the turf of this or that party.

[On a side note from the presidential campaign discussion, it was my insight into Bill Nelson’s management style and investment in getting things right when he was chair of the board of directors of an organization with which I was affilialted that will win him my vote every single time he runs.]

When we took a DISC assessment as part of a management training at work, one of the things my profile said about me was “you tend to tell a story more than sell it.” That may be true but I find it ironic because I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to “sell” people the idea of donating time, money, or items to particular causes. (But the assessment also recommended that people stay three feet away from me and I am actually a hugger so who knows?). What it DID say was that I thrive on being part of a team, a team that is focused into the things and causes I find important. And although I know any political campaign is going to have nastiness, something that grieves me the most about his one is the vitriol and hatred that have spewed faster than I can click out of some tweet streams and Facebook posts. It’s one thing to present an argument against this or that policy stand, but it’s quite another to attack an individual as being an inherently bad person.

With that said, I am proudly casting my vote for President Barack Obama. You may be voting for the other candidate; if you do, I am still glad you are voting and I will still respect him if he becomes President.

But as for Bella and me, we are on Team Obama all the way.

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