I missed the memo about voting.
I turned 18 in 1991, just in time to vote for Bill Clinton in 1992. I was lucky enough to come of age during a fairly heady time for politics, so I was swept up in the crazy optimism of the 90s when we just couldn’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow.
And then a few years later, there was all the controversy and heartbreak of the 2000 election. With all those hanging chads, dimpled chads, and recounts, we all hopefully got the memo that every vote really does count.
Like a lot of bleeding hearts, I spent a good part of the next decade licking my wounds and contemplating emigrating to New Zealand. After the demoralizing results of the 2004 election, I saw Sen. Kerry at a campaign rally for then-mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa and I burst into tears of grief as I gazed upon his long, gorgeous face.
But before that, another politician, one I had never heard of before, ignited a spark of optimism in me that I hadn’t really felt in years. In the summer of 2004, I was sitting in a hotel room in Ontario, California, eating a sad room service dinner and watching the Democratic National Convention. I was out in the hinterlands of southern California taking the Bar Exam. In the midst of this lonely, stressful experience, Senator Obama got me all fired up and ready to save the world.
Four years later, I listened to the “Audacity of Hope” while I was in labor. Seriously, Barack Obama sticks with me through the hard times. So I was excited when Obama got the nomination in 2008, and that year, I was swept up in the enthusiasm that inspired so many people. Check this out…
This was the line for early voting at the County Clerk’s office in Norwalk, California back in November of 2008. It took five hours to get through this line. Five hours. But people were waiting willingly. Joyfully, even. I had never experienced anything like it. And check this out…
Voting was a family affair that year. Our baby boy was with my husband and me the whole time, and while he won’t remember this day, I’ll tell him about it. And hopefully he’ll feel at least a little bit of the pride of civic involvement that we felt on that day.
And now here we are four years later and we are nearing the end of a seemingly interminable campaign season. With all the silliness, ugliness, and downright treachery that the electorate has been subjected to this time around, I’m feeling a little less inspired and a little more battle-fatigued. I voted by mail this time and the prospect of wrangling a four-year-old through a five-hour line for which there is no roller coaster at the end is a laughable non-starter. But I did vote. I hope you’ll vote, too.
Ballot cast and memo received.