Your vote doesn't count

Okay, I know the standard message is that every vote matters.  But in a recent discussion with my husband, I realized I don't believe this, and I'm betting a lot of the rest of you don't believe it, either.  We rarely hear of a decision coming down to one vote, except maybe in a classroom or a Girl Scout troop.  Or the Supreme Court (um, almost every time).  But in the electoral college system, in a country of 300 million people?  Nope.  Sorry.

Here's the thing, though.  VotING counts.  It's not the individual vote you cast.  It's the act of voting that matters.  It's partly because your voice is being heard; I'm a firm believer that you earn your right to complain, whine, cheer, and basically have an opinion on anything political by actually showing up and saying, "Yes, I'm here, and here's my vote."  But it's also about much more than which box you mark.  It's about the fact that your co-workers and friends know you voted, so you're influencing them and making each of them more likely to vote, too.  Your kids, if you have any, know you voted, and they'll grow up caring about it, even if they end up making decisions that are different than yours.  And every other person standing in line with you on Election Day, though most of them have places to be and really don't want to stand in a long line, know that you are right there with them, voting.  You're keeping each other there.  Everyone stands in that long line because they believe it matters.  They know that we cast our votes together, and we make these decisions together.

I'm bringing Kent in with me this time, because our polling place is the school right behind our house so we're planning to walk over.  Kent is five now, and he is finally old enough to want to come with me since he's been following the election news and cares about the outcome.  He was supporting Romney over the summer, but he is squarely his parents' child now and is supporting Obama after the gay marriage discussion.  We're thinking doughnuts afterward.  I'm just sad that he's going to be asleep before all the election returns come in that night.  I still remember how anxious I felt in 1988, the first presidential election I really remember (I was eight), going to bed not knowing who the next president would be and thinking how hard it was going to be to wait until the next morning to find out.

Casting my vote in 2008 felt good.  Kind of embarrassingly good.  But guess what else felt good?  Standing in line with everyone else from my neighborhood, waiting for my turn.  I had kind of a goofy grin the whole time.  I get an unbelievable feeling of patriotism when I think about those radical souls nearly 250 years ago who fought, discussed ideas, wrote eloquently and persuasively, and often died, trying to make sure that they could form a country where everyone had a voice, not just the wealthy and privileged who were born into it.  And I feel even more patriotic when I realize that small groups of dedicated individuals went on over the centuries to guarantee those rights to every single adult citizen of our country.  100 years ago, I wouldn't have been allowed to vote.  But we evolved.

So do I vote?  Yep.  Even in the most meager of local elections.  And Louisiana seriously wrote the book on meager local elections, so we had a lot of practice in the last nine years.

Do I vote in presidential elections?  Every single time.  And I get goosebumps every single time.  I still have the sweater I was wearing in 2000 when I voted for Al Gore.

Do I believe that my individual vote is going to be the deciding vote?  Not a chance.  But if I stand up and vote, *and* I spread the word, and everyone who reads this makes a plan for how and when they're getting to their polling place on Tuesday, then I'll feel like my voice is being heard in more ways than one.

Plus, there's that amazing high if the person you voted for actually wins.

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Really nice! Enjoy voting, and enjoy the doughnuts after (although beignets would be even better).
doughnuts! great idea for post-voting.

also, i love the way you articulate things.
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