Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Yes, I do remember my first time

One of the million things that bugged me about my ex-husband was his insistence on not voting. When I finally divorced his hillbilly ass he was 30 years old and had not once stepped inside a voting booth. Not one single time.

When I met him I was 18. At that time in my life voting was an interesting oddity but certainly not a deal breaker in the potential boyfriend department. No, a hot car and the right friends was certainly more important to me than which candidate a boy was going to vote for in the midterm elections, if he voted at all. Honestly, I don't think the conversation ever came up in the first year or two of our relationship.

It's strange that it never came up because voting has always been important to my family. As staunch Democrats, my father and mother took us to many a ham and bean dinner to raise money for the local Democrat running for a House seat. There was often a recognizable name printed on a red, white and blue sign on our front lawn. And my father was always vocal, very vocal, about which candidate had the best interests of the working man and his family. He's a union man, my dad, and if you're a union man in Massachusetts then chances are you're voting Democrat.

Let's get real, if you're living in Massachusetts there's a good chance you're voting Democrat anyway.

I remember my first time voting. It felt strange and slightly exhilarating to step into the local Knights of Columbus with my mother, to walk up to the table, give my address and receive my own ballot to vote, instead of being told to take a seat in one of the metal folding chairs that lined the walls to wait until she was through. I walked up to the booth and stood there for what seemed to be the longest time, sweating and unsure of what to do. What if I voted wrong? Was everyone watching me to make sure I didn't screw up? Would they take one look at my ballot and laugh at my mistakes?

After I finished punching holes in what I assumed were the right places (it felt like the SATs all over again: C, D, B, D, D, A, oh shoot! Time's up! C, C, C, C, C, C, C...) I put it in the huge box and smiled sheepishly at the nice retiree standing guard. I'm a fraud and he knows it, I thought. But I had done my duty. My candidate for governor won (ironically enough, a Republican) and I was proud of myself for participating.

In 1992 it was time for my first Presidential election: Bush (the elder) vs. Clinton. That was a good time to be a young voter, especially a young Democrat voter, but trying to engage my ex in any conversation about politics was like pulling teeth, then giving up on pulling teeth and going for a full root canal. Without novacaine. That's when he told me that he didn't vote and he had no desire to. I was incredulous: What do you mean you won't vote? You have two good legs and no one is tying you to the nearest tree to stop you, get your ass up and do your duty. Still, he refused. Apathetic is too kind of a word to describe my ex.

I should have known then that things wouldn't work between us. Every local, state and national election was the same - he refused to vote. Sort of like he refused a taste of salsa or any spaghetti sauce besides Preggo, he flat out refused to participate in the voting process. He saw no need and was convinced his vote wouldn't count for anything.

The dumb shit.

It never stopped me from participating but for a time it did slightly numb me to the importance of it all. Missed the gubernatorial election this year? Ooops. I'll vote next time. But after watching the past couple of elections and seeing how so many people didn't vote (and now that I have a husband with a sizable I.Q. and a responsibility towards making a difference) I have a new found passion for our election process. I shudder to think of what would have become of any child that I might have brought into this world with my ex and how little regard they might have grown up with for our basic rights. Chicky Baby will grow up knowing about how Democracy works (hell, we've got "I'm Just a Bill" in our DVD player as I write this) and just how important every vote is.

Bottom line: Mama's don't let your babies grow up to marry morons and get out there and vote today.

You're not tied to a tree, right?

17 comments:

penelopeto said...

so glad to see all these smart blogmamas spreading the word.

this canuck mama would love to see a change. i leave it to my smart sistas to the south.

julia said...

I voted, I voted! I voted for Patrick. And Ted Kennedy, because I think it's the law in MA - you have to, or they revoke your right to drop your Rs. I didn't see one ad by his opponenet. In fact, I didn't even know he HAD an opponent.

I love voting. It's one of the only times I get kind of emotional about being an American.

My first husband was a dumbass who didn't vote, either. We weren't married to the same guy, were we?

Dana said...

What is it with men who don't vote? Mine won't unless I drag him. I heard 20 million women didn't vote last election, but how many men???

mothergoosemouse said...

Kyle voted this morning. And I'm leaving for the polling place as soon as I finish typing this comment.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

I love voting! It makes me feel like I am a part of something big and I am making a difference...I'm going tonight!

T. said...

I'd love to vote. But I'm a Canuck, so my vote doesn't count for shit in your country. But I'm here, cheering you guys on...

VOTE!

Beck said...

That post made me want to go out and vote RIGHT NOW, which would be both difficult and illegal, seeing as I'm a Canada-living Canadian.

Being pro-union here means voting NDP, which is always a depressing thing to do. "Throwing my vote away", I like to call it.

IAI said...

GC announced to our polling place (in a friggin' Baptist church, for cryin' out southern loud) that we were "doing our civic duty"!

We also wrote in "anyone else" in more than a few races ...

Monkey Butt's Mom said...

Being an American now living in Canada, I must admit that I've missed the process today. I didn't consider until far too late to even figure out in what elections I'm eligible to vote and frankly, I am disappointed in myself.

But, I sit here watching RDS (damn French ESPN) waiting for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Dan Rather to host the Midterm Midtacular... yeeee haw.

scribbit said...

My first time was 1988 when Bush the elder was up the first time and it was exciting.

MotherBumper said...

Another Canadian Mom that would love to see a change. I can't tell you how much I loved "I'm Just a Bill" when I was a kid - I think I knew more about American politics when I was young before I figured out our system.

Jozet said...

I voted! I voted! And you can thank me for shoving Mr. Santorum OUT THE DOOR!!!

You're welcome.

Mommy off the Record said...

I don't know what's worse, that your ex didn't vote or that he wouldn't try any spaghetti sauce besides Preggo. As an Italian-American AND someone whose passionate about voting, I have to say that's a close call.

I'm so glad you dumped him and moved on to Mr. Chicky!

penelopeto said...

beck - not when you live in jack layton's 'hood :)

sunshine scribe said...

He wouldn't vote or taste salsa?! Yes .. don't let your babies grow up to be morons.

I have been watching your elections with great interest. We would love our next door neighbours to have some change.

Red Rollerskate said...

I'm still stumped over the salsa comment.
Seriously though, that and the not voting would have driven me crazy. Glad you "saw the light"!

lildb said...

I dated an apathetic loser or two, m'self. hey! I *was* an apathetic loser for awhile.

Thankfully, I've woken up to reality, the privelege of having the opportunity to throw my two pennies into the ring.

Phew.