It's election day here in the U.S.A. A little later this morning, I will be exercising my right to vote. I can remember at a rather young age asking my mom and dad who they were voting for. They never would say. They kept strict silence on who they voted for saying it was their vote, and no one really needed to know who they voted for.
Yesterday, my children brought home from school a paper instructing us to visit with our kids about the election today. We were asked to talk about the candidates, who we were voting for, and why we would vote as we would. There was an immediate clash between how I was raised and this assignment given to my kids.
I didn't talk to my kids about the election last night as I wrestled with this dilemma. You see, I think I understand a little more why my parents refused to talk about who they voted for as I was growing up. They wanted my sister and I to learn to think for ourselves when it comes to such matters. They wanted us to formulate our own opinions and thoughts about those who were running for office. They didn't want us to be carbon copies of their thoughts and opinions. They wanted us to be able to do our own research and come to our own conclusions. I very much respect my parents for this. So, how could I pass such a thing down to my own children in light of this school assignment?
This morning, I talked to my kids. I told them it was election day. I told them who the candidates were. I tried to explain, as best as I could what the two main candidates stood for. I explained to them they would have a mock election at their schools today. Then, I said, "Usually, Mom and Dad don't talk about who we vote for. This is a person's personal decision. When it comes time for you to vote, you will make your own decisions and not base them on what we think. It's your job to do it yourself. And just so you know you have options, you can tell your teacher that your Daddy is writing in a candidate and is not voting for either of the two main candidates for president."
My girls understood, and I was proud of them. We did have a rather interesting moment when my middle child said, "Barak Obama doesn't like white people." One of her classmates had given her that little nugget, and my wife and I had to take a moment or two to dispel that notion. I know some folks honestly believe that opinion, but I have been taught to follow Luther's explanation of the Eighth Commandment in the Small Catechism when dealing with folks. I had to inform my daughter that such comments were unacceptable without firm proof.
Yet, I wonder how their teachers will react when they hear one of their students say, "My daddy isn't voting for either one. He's writing in a candidate." I wonder if they think I'm wasting my vote. I know a few folks who I've informed believe this to be the case. I don't.
Instead, I feel like I am truly exercising my right to vote. I feel like I am not settling for less than I believe is needed in a leader. I feel like I am putting down on paper the person I feel is best qualified and who my conscience leads me to believe is an overall better fit to lead our nation. Much of the reason I do so comes from my deeply held convictions as a Christian, and I find neither candidate matching the principles of my core beliefs. So, rather than settle, I write. I argue, I am fiercely independent and will not be swayed by any particular group. That's just the way I operate. I know folks who strongly support either candidate, and that's fine. We'll see whom the electorate picks tonight or in the next coming weeks as a probable recount is in store.
I'll cast my vote shortly, and as far as I'm concerned, it counts greatly.