Today has been designated a blog carnival day by Peter Pollock, the topic of which is Remember. Which is fitting. I’m doing a lot of remembering today.
November 3 is voting day for the good people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our state Constitution says it’s time for a new governor and representatives to the state legislature, and there are always the handful of new laws to consider.
Voting to me has always been much more privilege than duty, and that’s a belief I want to pass on to my children. I want them to know the importance of what they will do every time they stand inside that curtained booth. They will become participants in a bloodless revolution, shouting their voice of continuation or change without uttering a word. The democratic process may well be the single greatest invention of man for this one thing—it allows ordinary people to alter the course of history.
I’m by myself this year, voting on my way home from work. But during the Presidential election last year, I took my son with me. That’s what I’m remembering today.
The crowd was large. That’s what I remember the most. Large but civil, as if they, too, understood the seriousness of their business. The only sounds were the murmurs of polite conversation and the shuffling of feet as voters were identified and assigned to their proper places.
My son hung in my arms, swiveling his head at the slightest sound. I’d gone over the gist of the voting process on the way to the voting station as well as could be explained to a four-year-old, which by necessity involved metaphors of both Star Wars and, strangely, Phineas and Ferb. But he still had questions. A lot of them. Questions that were reserved for the moment the curtain closed around us in the booth.
“So we get to say who’s the boss?” he asked.
“Yep,” I answered.
“Which one are you voting for, Daddy?”
I pointed and said, “That one.”
“Is he good?”
I didn’t know how to answer that. The pessimist in me wanted to say that I doubted it, that I doubted it very much, but that when people vote it’s usually more like they’re picking the least bad person rather than the best.
But instead I just said “I think he is,” and hoped it sufficed. It did, but then he asked me a tougher question.
“Does he love God?”
“He says he does,” I told him.
“Lots of people say they love God, but they don’t act like it much. Does he act like it much?”
“I don’t know him, buddy,” I said. “I just know what he says. Sometimes what people say and what they do are different.”
He didn’t like that and neither did I, but such was life and there you go.
“Grandma says her mommy and daddy never voted because they were squirmish,” he said.
“I think that’s ‘Amish,’” I corrected. “And you’re right, they didn’t.”
“Because to them God was the boss and no one else could be.”
“God’s the boss of me,” he said, then added, “even more than you.”
“Even more than me,” I said. I flipped the switch next to the name and said, “Okay, pull the lever and we’ll be done.”
His hand hovered over the bright red handle, then paused. “Maybe we should be like the squirmish people,” he said.
“Maybe,” I said. “But I think God wants us to speak for Him, too. And that’s what we’re doing.”
“By voting, right?”
“Can I pull the lever now, Daddy?”
He did, and the curtain opened.
Hand in hand walking back to the truck, we passed twenty or so people on their way in. Fellow soldiers in the revolution of continuation or change. A news truck was in the parking lot. A reporter glanced over notes while shielding her eyes from the sun. It was a bright sun that day, bright and bold and hung high in the sky. I remember wondering if it was still rising or beginning to set, and I remember thinking the same about our nation.
“I hope he wins, Daddy,” my son said.
“Me, too. But if he doesn’t, it’ll still be okay.”
“Because God’s still the boss?”
“Because God’s still the boss.”