Vote from the deepest nooks and crannies of your heart.
When I was growing up my mom and my grandparents kept it a big secret who they were voting for in the big elections. That was the way everyone seemed to roll in the late 70s and early 80s.
No one told each other who they were voting for. I mean, I'm sure some people shared their opinions and choices, but it wasn't like today. In fact, it was the opposite of today in that respect. These days, our social media feeds are basically one politically-charged post after another.
Our collective guard has been let down when it comes to voting in America. And to be honest, I think that's way more American anyway. Open dialogue is everything. And sure, you may find yourself unfriending your "friends" lately but that's not saying a damn thing about democracy. That's just saying something about you, and me, and about our stunted levels of patience and open-mindedness at a time when we need those things more than ever.
Of course, I didn't really understand much about politics back when I was a whippersnapper. That's one of the beautiful things about being a kid, isn't it? You don't NEED to know jacksquat when you're young. You're free to ignore it all.
You know about George Washington and his cherry tree. You know about Abe Lincoln and his unwavering honesty. But beyond that, you don't care. You're free to live your life, let your parents help steer the national ship, so to speak.
And in that light, nothing has changed at all. As parents who vote for the leaders of our country, the responsibility we shoulder when we cast our ballots is still as heavy and critical as ever before.
I love that about America. I love that we get to carry that burden around with us when we choose to vote. I love that as moms and dads with our children's very futures at stake, we have a golden opportunity to think long and hard about who it is we want to lead our people. About who it is we want to help guide our kids toward the best possible life they can have.
But, I cannot tell a lie (Lincoln!): all of that is also what scares the hell out of me, too. I'm dead serious.
Well, for one thing, we Americans have basically hacked away at what holding the office of of President of the United States once meant. Not all that long ago being President meant you were respected, possibly more than anyone else in land. Just a mere mention of "The President will be in town this week" on our local evening news used to send shivers up my spine by the time I was like 11 or 12.
By that point, I understood that our President — no matter who it was, no matter what party he represented — was a very big deal. And that people looked up to him.
Know why? Because he was our President. And because he was elected by us. Maybe not my mom. Maybe not my Pop-Pop. But still, they seemed pretty cool with accepting their defeat at the polls and moving on to embrace the new fella without too much fuss.
That phenomenon is fading fast now, though. Being President no longer means that you are afforded the dignity and grace and respect that it used to mean. Nowadays, being President means something else. But it shouldn't — and it's not too late to turn this thing around.
It'll take a lot of common sense as a nation and sometimes I'm not so sure that we're stocking that in the store anymore.
As parents then, we ought to be frightened out of our minds. And we ought to be ashamed, too. These elections aren't just about us. You DO remember that when you vote, don't you? Elections, especially Presidential ones, are about setting the tone and the course for the next four years of our children's lives.
Stop and think about that truth for a moment. When you vote for a President, you're basically voting for own kid in a lot of ways.
We joke with our kids, tell them, "Hey, if you study hard and are a good, decent person, YOU could be President someday!" But the truth is, there's a serious element of reality to that statement.
This country was built on the notion that anyone, anywhere can rise up from nothingness to be someone who really matters. To be someone who makes a difference in the lives of others. You look at your kids and you dream big dreams for them. In the back of your mind you want them to grow up to be a doctor. Or a school teacher. Or a fireman or an astronaut or whatever. And who's to say, maybe even President?
That's a wonderful possibility to hold in our hearts, isn't it? It's not that way in many places on Earth and you know that as well as I do.
So vote from there, will you? Vote from the deepest nooks and crannies of your heart. For your kid even more than for you. That could be them up there someday.
And you'd want to be proud of them, even if you're not around to see it happen. You wouldn't want them to be someone talking about excluding other people from all that our nation has to offer, would you? You wouldn't want to see your son or daughter addressing millions and millions of Americans and talking about building walls to keep people out or shipping human beings back to 'where they came from' based on religion, or their skin color, or any of that kind of thing.
Would you? I can't believe you really would.
But look, maybe you would want to hear your kid say that stuff. Maybe right this second you're shaking your head at my words, wishing you could unfriend me. In that case, I wish you'd just keep your vote secret like they did back in the day.
Because your child is going to hear you loud and clear. And they're gonna believe you. And they're gonna be that person one of these days real soon, President or not.
And that really sucks for my kids. But it sucks even more for yours.
This article was originally published at Facebook. Reprinted with permission from the author.