Why I Vote

Today’s post is part of a blogosphere event, Why I Vote. I have to thank Colleen at Chasing Ray for inviting me to participate in this event and causing me to really think about somethings I’ve really taken for granted. This is why I vote. Here is why others vote. Why do you?

Why, indeed do I vote? I suppose I do because my parents did and the question then becomes: why did they vote? Why, indeed!

When my dad decided to fight for this country, he passed for White in order to get a more active role in combat. I guess the joke was on him though, because he ended up working in the morgue. After the years he spent providing final honors to his fallen “brothers” in arm, he came back to his hometown of Toledo, OH and got married. He and my mother soon found a nice little home in which to raise their children. My dad would study the banks to find the best rates and terms. He always kept his finances well organized and from his diligence, he would quickly be accepted for a mortgage loan. But, when he took my brown-skinned mother into the bank to sign papers, the loan would suddenly be denied. I never remember either of my parents missing a day of work. My dad rarely took a vacation, went to church every holy day and Sunday, never did anything in excess yet, it seemed he would never get a house for his family.

My mom grew up in the Mississippi Delta. Life was rough in the Delta, still is. The poverty her family faced was so difficult that my mom barely spoke of it.

My mom and dad knew they wanted their children to have a better life and they made sure we got an education. They gave us everything they believed we needed and sent all three of us children to college.

You would think that people back in the 60s and 70s would be less informed than people today, but those were times when new sources weren’t competing 24 hours for viewers and they were able to deliver real information. My parents always watched the evening news. No matter how much we children complained. they watched the news! They read the Toledo Blade daily, discussed politics at the union hall and always voted. Even with all that they lived through, they couldn’t lose their faith in America.

Like me, my mom and dad never, ever imagined they would see a black president in their lifetime. My dad passed away long before Pres. Barak Obama even came onto the political scene. Dad was a diehard Republican and I have no idea how he would have voted, but mom was a lifelong Democrat. She had moved to Indiana to live with my sister and during the campaign mom was glued to CNN! But, you know what? My mom couldn’t vote for him.

She came from the Delta, that ragged ol’ Delta and in one of the may fires in the churches, courthouses and other public buildings down there, her birth records burned. I remember as a child going with her when she tried to get a birth certificate re-created so that she’d be able to get a social security card, but it couldn’t be done. Consequently, when she moved to Indiana she couldn’t get a driver’s license and without the driver’s license, she couldn’t vote for that black man she never thought she’d see become president in her lifetime. She didn’t live to see him inaugurated, but she lived to see him get elected. For that matter, she lived to see her children do fairly well for themselves.

So, for her, and for my dad, for all they endured so that their children could have a better life, for my children and for the grandchildren I hope to see in my life time, I will vote. America may only be a dream, but I’m part of that dream. My parents let me know that.

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15 responses

  1. Oh, no! Your poor mother! How insane — but once that birth certificate is gone, it’s so hard to prove residency, and everything else. I imagine the election coverage was a hoot for her four years ago. May the memory bring a smile this year.

    • Hi Tanita!
      My sister and I really just pieced all this together. We both had parts of this puzzle but we didn’t put it together until very recently. Mom wouldn’t have admitted all this to anyone unless she had to because she would have been embarrassed about not being able to vote. It kind of makes me wonder how much else she just gave up on over the years.

  2. this whole proving-who-you-are-in-order-to-vote thing makes me wonder at times whether or not we truly are the civilized, advanced democracy we claim to be. i’m glad your mom got to live to see obama elected, and to know you’re going to stay part of the dream.

    next: let’s see if a woman will get elected in our lifetime.

      • I think Delzey might be talking about the different rules and laws that are being enacted this election season. One state didn’t want to accept student ids in order to vote but wanted to accept gun registrations. And citizens having to jump through hoops to get a state i.d. or drivers license in order to vote. . .

      • what vasilly said. i simply cannot believe its the 21st century and there are politicians still trying to use disenfranchisement tactics the way they did after the civil war.

        heard a story about an elderly woman who lost her driver’s license because she had become legally blind and now cannot get a state ID because she doesn’t have “official” birth documents. mind you, when she originally got her first driver’s license she didn’t need that document, and now that she lost the license the state won’t let that former documentation (several decades as an otherwise registered citizen) stand in its stead because the license “expired” and the data is no longer valid.

        its just nuts

  3. Pingback: Why I Vote | Joy's Book Blog

  4. Those are my grandparents! As a younger and often dismayed voter, yes I vote, I completely understand why many people don’t vote. After reading this it adds a new perspective. While you vote to affect policies in the next 4 years or year even, you are really voting to help secure a future for your children and their children.

    Thank you grandma and grandpa.

  5. Delzey,
    Thanks for clarifying. I wrote this a few days before you left your comment and just wasn’t sure what you meant. There needs to be some verification in who is voting, but given how documents once were all paper, and all the ways papers can be lost or destroyed, there should be a better way to verify things for people. And having everything electronic doesn’t necessarily solve things!

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