Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Met by a shotgun

My sisters and I are very different from each other.  In fact, we were called "the Easter eggs" growing up because one of us had blond hair, another black, and the youngest was a red head. When we registered to vote, our differences showed as well. Just as we had hair and eye color of varying hues, we affiliated ourselves as a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent.  But we weren't "party line" people like my Granddaddy Hilton who always checked the box recording the fact he just wanted all candidates in his party to get his vote. My sisters and I vote our conscience, regardless of what is on our voter cards.

I attribute our belief  to a story I heard about our mother. In her family's corner of Southwestern Virginia, Granddaddy Reasor was an odd duck, a Republican. When my mother went to register to vote, a man was standing outside the building with a shotgun. Knowing her for the "daddy's girl" she was, he pointed his weapon at her and said, "We don't need any Republicans, Miz Reasor. You're not coming in here." Now my mother had a choice. She could have turned tail and run home. She could have complained to the sheriff.  Instead, she stared the man down, pushed the gun out of the way, and walked inside to register. The point was not that she was going to register as a Republican. She was going to register to vote, period, and no one could stop her from doing so.

I have thought of that story many times the past few weeks as I struggle with the burden of being a registered voter.  This political season, I am not happy with any of the candidates. I am fearful of some and disgusted with others. The ugliness of political commercials and rallies of both sides has turned me off.  Over and over again, I have asked myself why I continue to vote instead of turning into one of the majority of apathetic Americans who decline the privilege.

Ultimately, I have decided my feelings about the political parties, ads, insults, prejudices, and lack of concern for all Americans, have combined to become my "shotgun moment."  My feelings are staring me in the face, threatening my right to add my opinion of how the country should be led. Am I really going to let others determine whether I vote or not?  No. It is not going to be easy this election but I will think of my mother, push the shotgun out of the way, and vote my conscience.

What keeps you from voting? How can you reframe your feelings and exercise your privilege to vote?