The importance of voting has always been something near and dear to my heart. I was the second oldest in my senior class of 2010 at Lakeside High School, turning 18 in October. It was weird for me that even though I was still a senior, I suddenly was considered an adult.
Looking back, I was nowhere near being an adult, but for all my life that is all I had heard. “You’ll be an adult when you turn 18.” I do not know who decided on 18 being this magic number, but here we are. Adulthood.
Even though still in high school, I had a few extra rights as a U.S. citizen than the rest of my classmates. I could get a tattoo, buy cigarettes or a lottery ticket, book a hotel room, join the military, rent an apartment, open a bank account, get married, or be the only person at home when the satellite repairman needed to come in to install a new service. All of that was great, but of all those new rights I acquired suddenly, I was most excited about being able to cast my vote at the polls.
My senior year I participated in our annual school pageant, like I did every year before. This year the pageant included an interview portion, where each participant had to answer a question. I still vividly remember my question: “In your opinion what is the most important right as a citizen of the United States?”
Despite my nervousness and obvious shaking, this one was easy for me. I grabbed the microphone and proceeded to lecture the entire audience on the importance of voting.
This was in 2010 and Obama was our current President of the United States of America. It was not until two years later that I was able to cast my first vote for President in the 2012 election when Obama ran for reelection against Mitt Romney. I may have participated in a couple local elections in between that time, but that did not compare to the feeling of exhilaration that I experienced casting my vote for a national leader.
I have always been active in politics in one way or another and fully believe in the importance of democracy. That is why I demonstrate and practice democracy at home with my girls on a regular basis. If we are having a tough time deciding on a movie to watch on our weekly movie night, or if everyone wants something different for supper, we vote.
Sometimes I keep it simple and have them just raise their hand to cast their vote or on occasion we will draw from a hat. This does not always make everyone happy, but it is fair.
Last Friday, we narrowed our movie choices down to two and held our hands up to vote on our choice. Emerson was the only one who voted on “Where the Red Fern Grows” while the rest of the household voted on a much less depressing, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” So, it was decided, and we popped the movie in. I glanced over and Emerson was visibly upset, so she received the same lecture I gave that pageant audience in 2010.
Just like we may not be overjoyed with the outcome of a local or national election, we must deal with it and get out there and vote for the change we want to see during the next political season. I know sometimes it feels like your vote may not matter, especially during national level elections, but it most definitely does.
In 2000 when Al Gore was running against George W. Bush. That election came down to a recount in the state of Florida, where Bush ended up winning by 537 votes.
My children have no choice but to be exposed to issues that are going on within our country, state or town. Our national and local leaders will have an impact on their lives in numerous ways, just like they do ours. That is why it is important that we exercise this right that we have as an American citizen. Not everyone in the world has this same privilege.
(Paige Nash is a mom and digital journalist for The Webster Parish Journal.)
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