Tuesday, November 4, 2008

one for claus

not long ago, i asked a college student type person i know if he was going to vote in this year's thrilling presidential election (isn't everyone as wacked-out about politics as i am?) he had just turned 18 and in my warped political haze, i assumed he'd be excited to participate in an historic election like this.

after all, it's not often that a candidate like barack obama comes along, and there certainly are issues at stake that will directly effect this kid's future (the economy, jobs, mmm...war with iran, maybe?) and hey! he's a college student! he's part of the youth vote, right? those youth voters are gonna make the difference in this election! they're gonna show up at the polls! and besides, what a great thing to be able to tell your grandkids"i voted for barack obama." (a few of you might prefer to tell those grandkids "i voted against the baby-killing terrorist!" i'm trying to be inclusive, here.)

"not gonna vote," my college student friend told me, "i don't like either one."

harumph. "write someone in!" i suggested.

i wondered, though, if it was really true, or if – like myself at 18 (too busy drinking heinekin and shots of tequila, and singing "come on baby, let's do the twist" at weddings five times a week) – he just hadn't learned enough about either candidate to make a choice. after a brief conversation, he confessed that if he voted, he knew who he'd vote for. i breathed a sigh of political relief.

a few days later, we talked again and he told me he'd discovered that it was too late: he couldn't vote because he hadn't registered. yikes. after doing a little research though (very little) i discovered that in his state you can, in fact, register on the same day that you vote. hmm. so, no dice there.

when confronted with this information, (and by confronted, i mean...you know...confronted) he reverted to the old "i don't like either one" line. odd, since he actually told me earlier that he did favor one over the other. so why not vote?

it was a mystery to me. i've been known to have a touch of the o.c.d. so naturally i bombarded him with information about registering, where to register, what i.d. to bring to register, voting on campus, why he should vote, videos and emails and websites and pdf's and the like. i even arranged for someone from one of the campaigns to call him and offer encouragement or help with registering (that wasn't going overboard, was it?)

i haven't heard from him since.

but i bet he thought about it, and finally sucked it up and went out and voted.

for santa claus.


  1. I turned 18 a month before the 2000 election. Because of all the hoopla that occurred (hanging chads, recounts, etc.) I think I became more passionate about my right to vote and my refusal to throw that right out the window. I vote in almost every election, even "the small ones" that people don't know about until the results ticker comes across the bottom of their evening news.

    Even with this previous voting passion, the distinct knowledge that EVERY VOTE COUNTS (which I think is something my parents lacked in their early voting experiences), I can see that this election is special and important. I am so excited that the election is here and I'm so proud to be one of the many making history today by voting for someone I respect and who can bring real change to this country ((I actually voted last week)). It's been a long time since I've felt this kind of reverence for a politician and I'm really excited about it.

    It's disappointing for me to hear that there is an 18 year old out there-- being of voting age at a time where there is the potential to change so much-- who doesn't want to do the leg work to have his voice heard. Because if things don't change, if we as a country elect Grandpa, and 4 years from now things are even worse, he's going to wish he had educated himself on the issues and taken a few hours out of his day to get registered and cast his vote. That's the kind of regret I'm glad I never had to live with-- no matter what the outcome of the election was, I knew that I'd put my two-cents in and that was all I could've done.

    Happy voting everyone!

  2. It is interesting because I as a 32 year old, feel the same way as the 18 year old. Just because grandpa will not be elected, does not mean we will be better off.

  3. anonymous, you miss the point completely.

    my goal was to encourage a young person to vote. period. of course he knew who i was supporting, and i was never shy about that. but i would have encouraged him just as strongly had he said he was going to vote for mccain. or ralph nader. or santa claus.

    the point was to take part. to be a part. to learn, to get involved, and not to sit back and let others do the work.

    my own political leanings are pretty clear in my posts, i know. and i disagree with you - i think we will be far better off because barack obama has been elected. you have every right to disagree, and i respect that. but i would have encouraged you to vote as well. for obama, mccain, barr, nader, mckinney, or anyone else you choose to support.

    it seems fairly clear, at this point, that a large number of americans felt we would be better off with either obama or mccain. there hasn't been an election like this, with so much voter enthusiasm, in my lifetime.


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