I remember the very first year I was old enough to vote. My father asked me who I was going to vote for the presidential election. When I told him who I was voting for, he literally cringed. He didn’t try to discourage me from voting for my choice – what he did do was ask me to do my homework and truly look at the candidate to see if they stood for the values I believed in. I never forgot his advice.
Politics was a big part of my life for many years, having worked as a public servant for the federal government for 27 years. When I was working at The White House as a secretary for the speechwriters for President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford, I was an observer of some historic moments in the lives of those two presidents. I was standing on the White House lawn the day that Nixon and his wife, Patricia, waved goodbye and left on a helicopter, after he resigned from office because of Watergate; I was there when President Ford took office and when he pardoned Nixon; I was there when Ford was battling it out with Jimmy Carter in the presidential race. He did a lot of campaigning while in office.
On one occasion, I was traveling with the staff to California where Ford was on the campaign trail and was giving a speech at a $1,000-plate dinner. I wasn’t too impressed when they served a chicken dinner, having thought it would be a much better meal for that kind of money (just goes to show how naïve I was at the time). I’ve become a little more knowledgeable since then.
After taking an early retirement from the government, I pursued a job doing what I love –writing for a newspaper. This will be the first year for me, since 2000, that I have not been in a newsroom on Election Day during a presidential election, waiting to get the results and reporting who would be the President of the United States, along with which local candidates won their races. As a reporter, I would spend hours interviewing and writing profiles on those who were running for office. Now, I understand the importance of learning about the candidates and the importance of knowing about the values they stand for.
I believe this has been an unprecedented year in politics and this presidential election will certainly earn its place in the history books. But I was very disheartened when a friend told me they would not be voting this year, because they could not support the platform of either presidential candidate; I have heard many others express the same opinion. One thing I do know for sure: I will not give up my right to vote for any reason. There are many state and local races that are important – State reps, county commissioners, trustees, sheriff, to name a few.
Some people have said to me that it doesn’t really matter if they vote; after all, “it’s just one vote.” But I have seen elections determined by just one vote or by a very slim margin. Every vote counts and it is our basic right as an American!
So, let’s all get out and vote. I’ll see you at the polls.