By Fred Mills
I’ll keep this short and sweet: Go vote.
An editorialist recently characterized voting as a
privilege, not a responsibility. I completely disagree – unless you did
something stupid, became a convicted felon and are now barred from voting, it’s
a right and a duty. Lord knows I sat enough elections out during my 20s and 30s,
so I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on how ridiculous a person appears
when they bitch and whine about the way things are going in this country yet
they don’t even rise to the occasion when they have the chance every four (or
two) years to make a difference.
Here’s my story: in 1972 I wasn’t quite yet of voting age,
but I campaigned vigorously, in my own way, for McGovern. I’d grown up in a
political-inclined household – my mom was on the local school board when
integration finally reached full implementation in NC, and my dad was a state
legislator, so I knew right from wrong and the difference between justice and
injustice – and deep down I knew that Nixon was a venal criminal and not
someone worthy of representing my country in the highest office. I took a lot
of grief that fall at my high school, too; I distinctly recall being one of
three kids in my history class who raised their hand for McGovern when the
teacher took a straw poll in order to relate what was currently going on in America to our
civics lessons. I also remember telling folks about “this Watergate deal” I’d
heard about on the news and they just laughed at me and said I was dreamin’.
Maybe it was a bad dream, I dunno. But I still wore my McGovern-Shriver button
proudly (and I still have it). I was crushed and heartbroken when Nixon beat
McGovern in a landslide. And the sense of vindication when Nixon resigned a few
years later wasn’t enough to raise me up, and for a good while I considered
myself a political agnostic.
Cut to 2004: crushed
and heartbroken again. So many worked so hard – editorializing, organizing,
performing, canvassing, etc. – only to see the Bush machine steamroll over
Kerry (and possibly over due process, too).
This year’s like 2004, sort of – but very, very different,
too. In a very real sense, it feels like 1972 again, or at least I feel like I
did in ’72: hopeful, defiant, proud, scared, prone to weird waves of
conflicting emotions so intense that my teeth feel like they’re vibrating at
times. This despite all of the insanity that’s currently surrounding us – for a
visual encapsulation of what I’m trying to get at, go view the “Wassup 2008”
video, and make sure you watch it to the very end.
I voted two weeks ago, and right after I post this to the
website I’m going to take my 7 year old son out canvassing and working the
phones for Obama. How are you going to spend the next 10-odd hours?
Go vote, if you
haven’t already. Become a part of history today.
This has been a BLURT public service announcement – with