I voted in my first presidential election in 1984. That's me over there. At the time I was a cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy. I voted by absentee ballot with quite a bit of ambivalence. I was excited to be participating in my first "real" election, but felt very uncomfortable with the notion of voting for or against the man who at the time was my Commander in Chief. Not wanting to seem or feel disloyal, I voted for Ronald Reagan.
Having been a spectacularly bad cadet, I found myself four years later as a classroom teacher in Buffalo, New York. When the 1988 presidential election rolled around I took my civic responsibility seriously. I learned about the candidates and made an informed choice. One thing I didn't do, however, was share my views or vote with my students. I've behaved this way ever since then.
It's been a long, long road to the final days of this election, and I haven't blogged about the candidates, the economic crisis, or politics in general. Even though I now teach at the college-level, I take my position of authority over my students very seriously. They may be adults, but they are still impressionable enough to be influenced by the opinions of others, particularly their professors. I certainly know they're influenced by my ideas. Do students read my blog? Maybe. As a result, I don't talk politics here or in my classroom, largely because I feel that it serves as an abuse of my position. My job is to prepare the most thoughtful, creative, caring, well-prepared teachers I can. It is not to produce teachers who think and act like me.
On Tuesday I will head to the polls. I expect I'll wait in long lines. While I'm there I will think about all those who fought so hard to secure MY right to exercise this most basic of freedoms. Remember that female citizens in the United States did not have the legal right to vote until the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. After its passage, the Presidential election of 1920 marked the first occasion where women across the United States were allowed to exercise their right to vote.
On November 4th I will fulfill my civic responsibility. I will cast my vote. I will proudly wear my "I Voted" sticker to work. And I won't tell you who I voted for.
**A Bit of History**
There is no right to vote in the United States Constitution, though amendments to the Constitution have made provision for this right in circumstances where it had been denied.
Fifteenth Amendment - The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.The law of the land can only take this country so far. If we wish for our "government of the people, by the people, for the people" to serve us well, we must exercise this right and see it for the solemn responsibility it is. Please cast your ballot on November 4th and let your voice be heard.
Nineteenth Amendment - The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Twenty-fourth Amendment - The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Twenty-sixth Amendment - The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
You can read what others have to say about the importance of voting at Blog the Vote 2008.