I voted in a general election for the first time when I was 18. I still remember how excited I was. Reagan was running against Mondale (or was it Dukakis?). Born again Christian and high school debater that I was, guided by my understanding of the issues as well as my conscience, I voted for Reagan. My father drove us to the polls and, after making sure he was listed as a registered voter, he walked out—a protest non-vote. Since 1988 and that first election, I’ve continued to be guided by my understanding of the issues as well as my conscience. I have voted for Republicans and I have voted for Independents, but I have never voted for a Democrat in a national general election. Mostly, I have never caught the vision cast by the Democratic nominees.
Ingrained in my memory is the image that I saw on television a couple of months ago of a Hispanic working-class man at a rally who was calling out in a loud voice, “Si puedemos!” I later learned that “Yes we can!” is a campaign slogan. I hear in my mind the voice of one of the Kennedy progeny saying how she’s often told by people that her father and uncles were inspirational in those people’s lives, and how for the first time she is, herself, experiencing what it means to be inspired by a candidate. I’m turning a page in my life and acknowledging that there are issues other than abortion and gay marriage that matter to me, and it’s reasonable to expect a candidate to address more than these two issues.
A couple of years ago I (inadvertently) went out-of-network to see a doctor for one measly stress test, and it cost me almost $2,000. Affordable healthcare would be nice. In the Summer 2008 issue of the World Vision magazine that I receive, President Rich Stearns writes, “Just once I would like to hear the candidates discuss the importance of addressing one of the greatest terrors facing our world today: poverty that enslaves one-third of the world’s population and results in nearly 10 million children under age 5 dying needlessly each year….In 2007 the US spent five times more on the war in Iraq—one country—than we provided on foreign aid for the rest of the world.” Yes, less myopic foreign policy would be nice.
Mrs. Loving, of “the Loving case” fame if you went to law school, died this past week. In 1967 (practically yesterday!) the Supreme Court effectively did away with the anti-miscegenation laws of 17 states. Specifically the Court decreed that it was unconstitutional for the State of Virginia to prosecute Mr. and Mrs. Loving for living together as man and wife, he being White and she being Black. [The Virginia judge in his lower court ruling declared that God made people black, white, yellow and red, and put them all on different continents clearly intending that they not mix together. Funny. Now.] The loving Lovings, who had escaped incarceration in Virginia only by agreeing to leave the Commonwealth, were allowed to move back to their rural community. Their marriage was recognized and validated by the State. Mr. Loving lived with his wife in quiet enjoyment for less than ten years before passing away. Mrs. Loving never remarried. Because of the Lovings any of us, who live anywhere, can marry anyone that we choose. I think about the Lovings, and 1967 (practically yesterday), and ask myself, how can I vote for a candidate whose voting record on Civil Rights issues is consistently awful? Who I’m sure would have voted in favor of an anti-miscegenation law. Why should I vote for such a candidate, anyway, when I’m not at all inspired by anything that he has to say, or even with the way that he says what he says; when I’m not catching his vision? When he’s so 2004?
I cannot vote with the visionless. I hear the voice of a leader. I hear the voice of inspiration. I hear a different voice than the ones I’ve been hearing for the past twenty years. And I’m liking the sound of this voice.
What will I do, I wonder, if a vote for vision is not offered in November? If the choice is between Same Old Thing A and Same Horrible Thing B. I can see where a protest non-vote might be tempting.