Saturday, November 17, 2018

One more voter

This conversation happened in October, before the midterms, but it's worth sharing.

My husband Art and I have eight kids between us, ranging in age from 33 to 47. In most cases, I don't know how they vote or whether they vote at all.

For my two sons, I know one of them always votes. He's 41 now, and I suspect he is mostly conservative. The other, now 39, has never registered to vote at all. Last year I asked him why he didn't, and he said, "Oh, I don't know. I never pay much attention to stuff like that." I'm not naming names here, to avoid embarrassing either of my sons.

This summer, as the midterms heated up, I pushed a little on the nonvoter. I said, "I hope you will register to vote." He shrugged and said something vague. A couple of weeks later, I said, "If you will register to vote, I will take $100 off the amount you owe me." (He started a new business last year, so he owes me quite a bit more than that). This time he said he would, and the next week he told me he had.

In the middle of October I asked him if he had gotten his ballot yet. He said, "I think so. I'll have to check." I said, "I'm leaving for the winter on October 31. If you come over before then, we can go over the ballot. He said, "Yeah, okay."

In that same mid-October conversation I told him I wanted to draw up a repayment contract for the money he owes me, and would he please come over and sign it. He said he'd be over before I left.

On October 29 he texted me and said, "Mom, are you going to be home this afternoon?" I said yes. "I'll be over."

At 5 pm he arrived. I read him the contract and he signed it. Then I said, "Did you bring your ballot?" He said, "Yes." I didn't let him see my astonishment and relief.

Me: "Okay, are you a Republican or a Democrat?"

Him: "I don't know, but I'm NOT a liberal."

Me: "Well, historically, Republicans have supported smaller government and fiscal responsibility. And Democrats have supported social programs to protect the poor, elderly and disabled. Let's go through a few current issues and see what you think. That may help you decide who to vote for. What do you think about the Dreamers?"

Him: "Who are they?"

Me: "Say you have a buddy you've known most of your life. He went to middle school and high school with you. You played on the same soccer team for four years. He went to U Dub and is now working downtown. His parents came here from Mexico when he was two. Now there's talk about deporting him, and others like him, because he's here illegally."

Him: "Well, that's bad! He doesn't know any Spanish, or anyone in Mexico. He should sure get to stay here. But he should also do what he needs to do to be a US citizen."

Me: "Okay. Your opinion aligns mostly with the Democrats on this one."

Him: "Okay."

Me: "How about the gun issue?"

Him: "People should be allowed to have guns, but not those assault weapons. And no one who is mentally sick or violent should be allowed to have one. And they should all be registered. I have a gun - traded my old one for it from a guy who died - but I've never used it."

Me: "Is it registered?"

Him: "No, I never did that."

Me: "When you bought your car from your buddy, did you register it?"

Him: "Of course."

Me: "Might be a good idea for the gun."

Him: "Yeah, I need to do that."

Me: "Okay, your opinion on guns aligns mostly with the Democrats on this one." He marked his ballot.

We went over a few more national, state and local issues on the ballot: state initiatives around the environment, additional police training; local issues like a small use tax increase to maintain the streets and sidewalks of the town he lives in. He had opinions on all of them.

Me: "From what you've told me, I'd say you're an independent moderate."

Him: "Okay, good."

Me: "When I'm voting for people, I want to have someone representing me who pretty much shares my ideas, no matter whether they're a Democrat or a Republican."

Him: "Okay, yeah."

Me: "Sometimes, though, I will vote for someone because they're in a particular party. For example, in the national election this time, I voted for Democrats for the Senate and for the House of Representatives, because I want there to be checks and balances in government. That means that if the president wants something to happen, there should be enough people in the other political party to think about it and have a say in what happens, so the president doesn't get too much control. It's in the Constitution, the checks and balances."

Him: "Okay. I get it." He marked his ballot for the Senate and the House.

Me: "Now, the judges on the ballot. Let's look them up online and see what other people think."

We did. We used the Washington Bar Association's website to get their recommendations. And he marked his ballot.

Me: "Now, you tear off the edges of the ballot, and you put it in this little envelope."

Him: "Okay." He did.

Me: "And then you put the little envelope in the mailing envelope."

Him: "Okay."

Me: "And you sign it."

Him: "Okay."

Me: "And you mail it."

Him: "Okay. I'll drop it in the mail tomorrow."

Me: "How about you put it on the counter and Art will mail it tomorrow?"

Him: "Okay, good."

As he was leaving, he said, "Mom, this was easy. I'll do it all the time now."

May it be so!

In our family we have one more voter.


DUTA said...

The most important thing he has to know as a voter is to accept the result of the elections. If he refuses that, then his vote is a contribution to a divided nation. Sadly, the american nation is at present a highly divided nation.

Suemn said...

Yay! Good job on getting your son to vote for people he can support. I really hope he continues through the years.

Celia said...

Good job Mom.

Sandi said...

It is so important for voters to do this research!

Since you were mailing the ballots, are you in Oregon? I went and waited in line. Not too busy, but busier than most midterms around here.

DJan said...

I am so glad we live in a state where we can mail in our ballots. My husband and I sat down not long after we received our ballots in the mail and went over our choices, using both the Voter's Guide we received in the mail and the Progressive Voters Guide online. I find that I look at what organizations support a candidate, too. Congratulations on having yet another voter in your house, Linda! Well done! :-)

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Good job and welcome to our new voter. I think many people don’t vote because they don’t know the process and how easy it is. It is wonderful that you asked him the questions so that he knows who and what he is voting for on the ballot.

Unknown said...

Thank you for spending the time with him. Hopefully, a lot of people will do that same thing with their kids. After volunteering for a campaign, I will never look at those folks who knock on doors the same way. I will never look at politics in general the same way. Happy Thanksgiving.

Bonnie said...

This is great. I dont think its acknowledged that many new and existing voters are not comfortable or confident about voting it's not just something they've done recently or often enough and folks are embarrassed to admit it. wish we spent less on attack ads and more on educating folks how to vote. Good job Mom!

Linda Reeder said...

That was fun to read. You are a good coach/teacher.

Janette said...

Interesting. He seemed to be very much an independent. Almost all of the people in his age group who I know are neither democrat or republican. They, instead, research the person and their views. $100 is a great insentive.Here it is dinner and walk around money after you vote after being picked up downtown.

Tom said...

Sounds like your son is intelligent and responsible ... and now $100 richer! Personally, I think we need more independents who think for themselves and vote for the person, not the party, and of course you're right, we probably won't agree with any candidate on every issue, but we make a judgment on the major items and the character of the person. Honestly, I don't know if my kids voted. My daughter's a liberal. I'm guessing she voted but I don't really know. My son was a Ron Paul fan; then he said he liked Trump; then he liked Bernie Sanders. I just think he likes to be difficult ... and probably didn't vote. Maybe I should have a talk with him.

Joared said...

I think too many people get caught up with labels — political party names, etc. instead of focusing on issues which you kept your son focused on.