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Practically Paradise
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Blog the Vote – Diane’s Story

BlogtheVoteLogoSarahStevenson Blog the Vote   Dianes StoryWhy should you vote? Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray, Gregory K. of GottaBook, and Lee Wind organized Blog the Vote for Monday, November 3rd. Colleen is keeping the list updated so be sure to blog and send her your link. Remember: no bashing of the 4 candidates (Obama, Biden, McCain, Palin). Come by for coffee and I’ll tell you my personal feelings about the candidates. For the blog post, let’s focus on WHY it’s important to vote this year. Here is my response:

Our nation is in turmoil. Those who monitor and protect our Constitution, our liberties, and our reputation throughout the world know we have been under attack. The world no longer views us as they did when my children were born. We have not protected the environment or the economy. Too many families are losing their homes, their jobs, and their healthy lives. Too many voices are crying for help. Legislators who are in office are frustrated at the deadlocks, barriers, retaliations, and inability to work together to overcome our problems without hurting the future of our children and their children. 

People are divided by incomes and idealologies. There is panic in the local help organizations that they cannot meet the demands already flooding their offices. We need change. We need an attitude of working together, across parties. We need to reclaim the JFK meaning behind "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." We need action.

We are under attack, not from terrorists, but from our apathy and indifference to getting involved. When we allow atrocities to happen and do nothing to change the leaders of the atrocity, we give them approval. To show how strongly you feel about the issues, you must respond. You must take action. You must vote. 

This year I have faced beginning life as a single woman. I have struggled to pay a disproportionate amount of the bills and had water, trash pickup, electricity, and phone service disconnected. I have gone without medication because I couldn’t afford the co-pay. I have lived on Ramen noodles because I couldn’t afford nutritious food. I have eaten donated vegetables of the strangest variety knowing we needed every bit of nutrition. I have gone to gas stations with 21 cents to buy just enough gas to get to work. I have been docked a day’s pay because I went to a professional workshop out of state and was unable to go receive the Louise Meredith School Library Media award in person from the Tennessee Library Association because I couldn’t afford another loss of pay. I have been unable to participate in the church food program where you purchase a huge amount of food for only $30 because I didn’t have $30 to buy food that month. I have watched my beloved dog Marshall age without arthritis medication because I couldn’t afford a vet bill. I have stopped purchasing anything for myself – books, hosiery, cafe mocha, chocolate, etc. I work to feed my 16 year old and focus on paying all the bills that accumulated as the economy went sour.

Yet I have hope this year. I know that I am casting my vote for change and I am willing to step up to do my share to help others. I continue to write and advocate for school libraries and all types of libraries. I monitor those who threaten our freedoms and access to information and I’m doing my part in helping people get to the polls. Do I expect things to magically improve? No! I expect things will get much tougher and we will have to work together. I can rest each night knowing that I am doing my part as a citizen by voting.

My four sons have always known how important voting is to me. When they were young, they solemnly stood or crawled beside me as I entered the booth and closed the curtain. As they grew older, they helped me work for the county party, held signs and waved even when hateful words were thrown at them from cars and at the fairgrounds. They developed opinions and learned to judge hypocrisies. The oldest two registered to vote and had to vote absentee ballots as they are in the army, but we constantly discussed this election and the seriousness of their vote for all our future and that of their children to come. Their younger brothers made sure they understood the choices they made were going to impact them also so they’d better do the wise thing.

Last week I ended a school meeting early so I could get to the community center and early vote. I realized I had a flat tire as I was nearly there and I agonized – do I stop and get the tire fixed knowing I may not get to the poll or do I go vote and face having to change the tire in the parking lot in the dark? I chose voting. 

When I entered the center, the voting line extended down several hallways, around a gymnasium, circling around again, and out the door.  I arrived at 5 pm and walked out triumphantly at 6:50 with 90 people still in line behind me. While I waited and shuffled, I chatted with those around me. We made sure not to advocate for particular candidates, but we discussed the troubles our country was facing, the low wages of teachers in the county I live as opposed to the county I work, and the impact this election would have. People all over the gymnasium were agreeing that we were going to have to come together, work together, and create government anew to face these challenges. 

I text messaged all my sons as I left to tell them I had finally voted. They texted cheers back. A stranger I met in the poll area had a can of air and with the help of another stranger, helped me inflate my tire to get home until I could get to the shop the next day. (Even my spare was flat) As they drove away, I noticed their bumper stickers were for opposing parties. It shows we can work together, help each other, and rise above party differences. 

The important part is your role. You must get involved. Take the first step. Go to the polls and vote. Don’t let anything – flat tires, work, child care, long lines, lack of gas money – anything stop you.

Remember if you blog the vote or want to read everyone’s posts, go to the Master List at http://www.chasingray.com/archives/2008/11/blog_the_vote_2008.html

Comments

  1. Amy Bowllan says:

    Diane,
    This post is certainly one for the “blog record books.” Not only did I enjoy it but could soooo relate to it – as will others who read it. I appreciate you taking the time to share with us why this election matters from a human perspective. It means more than you know.
    Thank you.

  2. Michele Thornton says:

    Thanks for sharing your story–I admire your determination and courage!