A member of the League of Women Voters and a District Chairperson of the Republican party in the late 60’s, within a Democratic stronghold of the South,..my mom was truly a groundbreaker. Deciding to run as a representative in Arkansas, the deck was clearly not in her favor and yet she doggedly pushed on ahead. Extremely principled, she wouldn’t budge on issues of importance to her–life and the quality of life, education, just laws and government, and fair taxes. Not to mention, she outright refused to portray herself as anything less than this merely to speak to another audience. Her political career was all but doomed, and yet what she instilled in me was a belief that there are moral principles worth fighting for.
Though I myself never ran for office, I became quite active in my HS and undergraduate years in the political scene, resolutely campaigning for those I felt could offer a good vision for the future. Going door to door, putting up signs and holding a microphone at counter rallies, I was more than willing to speak for a cause. My entrance essay for Mount Holyoke College, in fact, was aptly entitled “An Apathetic Voter Makes for a Pathetic Democracy”. Clever, eh? So then, what happened to dull this avid proponent of democracy into more of the subject of this essay? Experience and disappointment.
Through my 30’s, unconsciously I had begun to acquire a new mantra on the political system. Unable to feel any candidate fully or even partially represented values I held dear I had resolved to be religious but not political. Clearly there was room for growth on both sides of the political spectrum, and the losers weren’t the candidates but the American people. Particularly I felt were those who were being enticed by temporary campaign promises, courted, then all but forgotten in the months following the election. Issues of the protection, preservation and betterment of life for those most vulnerable have been more often than not it seems, never intended to succeed either in theory or practice. Gridlock.
However, the nice comfy perch I had found sitting above the fray by acquisition of a philosophy of moral superiority was also feeling less comfortable and more concerning. What difference was I making in the lives I proclaimed to be asserting for if I refused to take a stand, if my approach was to simply resign to throw my hands up in disgust? If I was merely going through the motions and lacked purpose in my step? Yes, even though there may not ever be an ideal candidate it is my responsibility to vote my conscience and my faith. Then whoever is elected, they too may need a reminder from all of us that there still exists faith, hope, love and charity- and these are truly values worth fighting for.
This election you too can accept the invitation to vote your conscience..and hold politicians accountable.