My dad always used to say, “How come when we’re talking about sports teams, we say, ‘us’, but when we’re talking about politics, we say, ‘them’?” But it’s not true. It’s not always true anyway. I say “us.” I believe in government and lots of it, frankly. Mostly because I don’t trust us to govern ourselves; we weren’t ever meant to. And, honestly, if you’re paying attention, you know that every time a small-government originalist is in office, shit falls apart. Like, way apart. Deficits grow tremendously, wage gaps widen, and the already blurry line between equality and justice becomes nearly unrecognizable.
This afternoon, when The Who opted not to come with me to vote, I had a conversation with him about responsibility and making our voices heard. (And further, how voice = vote, which m* added, because that concept wasn’t immediately clear.) I reminded him that being comfortable with the voting process, participating in every single election — even when you’re tired, which is what his reason for not wanting to go today was — is essential. Because without voters, there is no election. And without an election, there is no democracy. Big concepts for a lazy day-off from school. Ultimately, I reminded him that he has never missed an opportunity to vote with me. That, in fact, even in utero, he joined me to elect our president. And then I insisted that he put some clothes on and come with me, which he did.
People were fired up about this election. Supreme Court justices and School Board — those were the big ones. There’s been chatter about it for months in the pick-up line after school. A lot of people voted. I had to wait in line to cast my ballot, which I have never had to do since moving here. (In Boston, I waited in lines all the time, but I was in a bigger precinct then.)
This year, more than others, The Who knew a little about what we were voting for. The other day, we marched together in support of the support staff union at the school, which is struggling to keep members in jobs as the districts in the county start to look at outsourcing. Last year, he marched with the teachers in our district, who were working without a fair contract. He understood what was at stake in this election — that maintaining fair wages and keeping the community in the schools was an important issue. Did he know about unfair ousting of a local principal? No. Did he know about the cries across the district to get rid of the superintendent? No. But he knew enough to know that voting was the biggest single influence a person could have on all of these things.
Anyway, my point is this: I do say “us” when talking about politics. Because I strongly believe that even though the system is flawed in many ways and even though voting for a liberal Republican is pretty much the same as voting for a conservative Democrat and even though change is sometimes so slow that it’s impossible to see, I am both part of the problem and part of the solution. My role as a citizen is inextricably linked to the actions I take to influence people and the ways in which I make sure my voice is heard. And the energy I expend toward bettering my country/my state/my county/my borough/my school district is in direct correlation to the pride I take in those same places.
This week, “we” had both a big win and a big loss. “We” won on Thursday night. “We” played an awesome game against Miami. “We” kicked their asses. But, also, “we” lost big at the polls, electing in a string of school board members who I believe don’t have the best interests of our kids at heart. “We” have to do better next time. And in the meantime, “we” need to figure out the best way to spread this message of accountability.