Tuesday, November 6, 2012


When I was a child, my teachers taught me the glorious and grand history of democracy and how lucky I was to live in a country that gave me a voice (or would give me a voice when I was old enough). They taught me about government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Those teachers never once warned me of the hellish nightmare of living in a swing state: the incessant explosions of ringing phones delivering poisonous recorded messages, the bullet-like constant barrage of nasty television advertisements, the wreckage of campaign signs littering the side of the road.

Last night, George received a phone call that almost made me change my vote. It was so nasty and ugly and inflammatory that my blood pressure is still up this morning. I want to find the man who spoke to my husband and dope-slap him on the back of the head and make him read relevant passages of Emily Post out loud repeatedly until he will never again use language like that on the phone. Then, I'd like to find the candidates on whose behalf he spoke and line them up in chairs and wag my finger in their faces for an hour.

Then, perhaps, I'll feel better. Perhaps.

This figurative war zone of Ohio (and similar zones in Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin) finds peace at 7:30 this evening. Whatever the outcome, we, the people of Ohio, will no longer be under attack by politicians trying to wrestle our vote from us.


Throughout this ridiculous war, which has gone on far too long and cost far too much, I've thought about a woman I know who has never voted. She lives right here in Ohio and has lived here all her life. She was born here. She is a citizen of the United States of America.

And she has never voted, says she never will vote. It's pointless, she thinks. Her vote is just one, and meaningless. Besides, all the politicians are power-hungry, blood-sucking parasites and she sees no point in voting for any of them.

She has never voted, people, and she can. It's her right. Her responsibility. Her honor and privilege.

But she won't exercise her right. She won't.

My reaction to her attitude is as visceral as my reaction to that phone call last night. How can she abdicate her responsibility so carelessly? How can she disregard the lives given in the establishment and defense of this country's democracy and freedom? How can she take that blood shed on her behalf for granted? How can she walk away from the most amazing political system in the world, a system others are currently dying--quite literally dying--to enjoy?

I don't get it.

No human institution is perfect. Democracy isn't perfect. The United States government isn't perfect. The education system isn't perfect, nor is the health care system, immigration, the tax code, trade, the military, foreign policy, the court system, and so on. These systems never will be perfect, but the knowledge that every single one of those elected officials owes us for his or her power means something. It means something huge. It means the difference between blood-sucking parasites who annoy us and all-powerful dictators who turn us into mindless, voiceless victims.

My elementary school teachers were right: democracy is the best gig going, has been the best gig since Athens got it all started two-and-a-half thousand years ago. Consider the alternatives. Care to move to North Korea? The chaos of Syria? Vladimir Putin's Russia or any of the other countries that pay nominal homage to democracy yet are so rife with corruption and abuse that people can't speak or vote their conscience or even complain without risking their lives?

As annoying as our swing-state war zone is, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

If you are a citizen of the United States, Get. Out. And. Vote.

Please. I promise you. It means something. Something huge.


  1. We in Australia think we have a better system! It doesn't go on for so long, seems a lot fairer and voting is compulsory.

    I hope whoever is elected will seek to uphold the Godly values upon which your founding fathers built the nation.

  2. I live in one of the swing states, and the number of robocalls received this election is appalling. Perhaps the "No Call List" should be extended to cover political phone calls. I am also appalled by the messages of these phone calls.

    One effect of these robocalls is the distress caused to those living in a retirement community. I have a relative in an assisted living complex and she was very troubled by the incessant phone calls. She let her answering machine pick up the calls, it became overloaded and took no more messages and she missed a phone call about the death of a relative.

    Perhaps that is a small consequence of an important election, but it was not a small consequence to her.

  3. Yes, Helen, no small consequence to that harrassed woman! My condolences to your family on their loss.

  4. Hail, hail! We don't live in a swing state but those horrid phone calls come. Where did all this nastiness come from anyway? It will be good to have this ugly time end tonight. I do hope everyone who can will get out and vote no matter how difficult the weather or finding a polling place may be. EVERY vote counts.

  5. mailed in my vote last week.

    And I admit, I let the answering machine take the calls. I kept the volume down and delete the messages just as soon as I hear the political mumbo jumbo. AM SO SICK of the mail, the phone calls, etc.

    But I still voted!! HA!

  6. WOW Susan, well written. Thanks. Yes, I voted.

  7. A few days ago one of my friends from high school posted on FB about how he was not only NOT voting, but he would be PROTESTING at a poling place!
    I was invited to join him (along with 400 of his other "close" friends) and protest this "corrupt process which does no more than placate the common man with the idea that he has a voice while selling each of us into slavery" or some other such BS. I was LIVID. Scary pissed.
    I am not/have not been a member of any military service. Nor am I close to any of my extended family that is/was active. But the very idea that someone, especially someone I know, would be so... so... (I don't even have words!)
    I told DH about it and while he supported me in my anger I just didn't feel like it mattered as much to him. I finally felt better after telling my cousin JUST so I could have someone to be OUTRAGED with.
    Which is a bit silly, really. Usually I'm very much a live and let live kind of person.
    But I would like to shake my finger in his face for hours. Hours, I tell you. :)

  8. I am sooooo glad this is over. Susan, you are so eloquent. Fortunately, we are still in NC (and voted absentee, thank you very much), and FL is our state of residence so we were spared from all the vicious calls. I think if I had gotten even one call like that, I would have told that person they had just changed my vote. Let's all stand behind the person we elected and try to have some compromise these four years. Am I asking for too much?

  9. Well done Susan, really enjoyed this post.
    We in the United Kingdom don't think we have a better system but we believe wholeheartedly in democracy.

    I get very annoyed with my colleagues when they say they won't vote but continually moan about the government of the day.

    I believe it is down to laziness. They can't be bothered to determine which politician holds the views closest to their values so they would rather moan.
    It makes me so angry but then I stop myself and think would I want to live in a Society that has compulsory voting - that is not democracy either!
    Everyone also has the right not to vote (but shouldn't moan if they don't)which hopefully means that the ones who do take the trouble to vote have the government they deserve - somewhat inflammatory but do you agree?

  10. I can certainly sympathize with you over the robocalls this election year. I live in Florida, and for the last month my phone doesn't stop ringing from 5pm to 9pm. It's crazy.

    I had one call where the solicitor asked for my vote for her candidate. It just so happened I had voted early and voted for the candidate. One would think the call would have ended there with a "thank you." It did not. The caller asked me if I could tell 10 neighbors about the candidate. Um, no...I don't bother my neighbors with my political views. Well, could I send 10 emails? post to 10 friends on Facebook?

    I told the caller I would, but they insisted on which option I was going to choose. Were they going to follow up on my postings? The caller finally hung up when I told her I was going to see what I could do about retrieving my ballot and changing my vote.

    I have 2 friends who have never voted, EVER...one is 54 (a carefree "whatever will be, will be" who left high school early) and the other is 49 (a college graduate, with a career in the law enforcement field). Both say they will never vote "because their single vote doesn't count." I gave up years ago trying to change their minds. I don't get it.

    I, too, am glad today is Wednesday and the voting is over. :)

  11. Well written. It breaks my heart when we only such a small percentage of people vote when they have the FREEDOM to do so without a gun pointed at their head to ensure they vote the "right way" etc. Never mind the women who lost their lives and were imprisoned in their fight for their right to vote... Biggest issue is when those who do not vote complain about who got in - don't get me started there!!

    Also breaks my heart how much they spend on the campaigns...just thinking how that money could have been spent elsewhere, where there are true needs etc. can get me riled up too.

    Glad we have a reprieve until our next federal election up here in Canada, though our provincial one comes up next year. And yes, I will be voting in both!!

  12. great post, i live in ohio also, i've had calls from biden, clint eastwood, ann romney & obama himself. lol. i had a guy actually start laughing when i answered his question. my mom had someone tell her if she didn't vote a certain way she was selfish & didn't care about her children & grandchildren.
    glad it's over. maybe your neighbor took a page from gracie allen's book, gracie said, "i don't vote, it only encourages them." we are blessed to live in a free country and have the privilege of casting our vote.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!