I can still remember the smell of the old school house. Old, yet not musty. History enveloped my lungs as I followed my parents into the building where our little country "community" would hold family events and Halloween parties. This time it was for the election. My first time voting.
Election workers had set up the voting booths spread along the walls. The red, white and blue draperies that made up the booths undoubtedly spread patriotism into our hearts and minds. The workers knew who we were just by looking at us, but yet had us state our names and we signed by our address.
This year was the first time I could vote, and it just so happened to be a presidential election year. 1996. Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and Ross Perot were on the ballot. I remember my Dad telling me to vote for who I wanted, as long as it was a republican. I got a chuckle out of it, but I could tell the seriousness in his voice. Ultimately it was my choice, but for the record, I did vote for Dole that year.
Every year since, I've made the effort to get to the polls and vote. No matter what the election was for. Whether it was township, county, school board, or college trustees—even the seemingly unimportant primaries—I went to vote. I even got to vote for my Dad for a township post and my uncle on the school board. My single little vote would be counted. My parents instilled in us how important it was to do our civic duty.
But this year has been different. The constant bombardment of ads on social media, television, in my mailbox and on the radio seemed never ending. Plus the ads just aimed at getting people to register to vote and to actually go out and vote. In my 40 something years on this earth, I honestly can't remember seeing ads like this. Honestly did it do any good? Guess we'll see, but preliminary numbers are showing record numbers of advance voting.
Four years ago I was disgusted about how the rural voters were deemed uneducated and wrote a blog post on my personal blog that got more views than I ever have on that site. Funny how my words just four years later still ring true.
“The non-rural folks standing on the other side are unwilling to understand rural. I, however, try to see where they’re coming from. They don’t need us (so it seems.) They don’t see us. They don’t run into us on their streets or in their stores. They rarely come here. Do they appreciate all the things I appreciate of rural people? We’re mostly kind, mostly simple and most of all, we’re important. We’ve stood by the last 8 years and suffered through trade embargos, falling commodity prices and lack luster cattle markets and we’re still here. You won’t find us out in the streets destroying property and running a muck protesting. Rural folks are tough, and often can take a beating and keep on ticking.
I’m not upset by the election. I’m upset because of the words. I’m saddened people resort to name calling over something they don’t have much control over. And I too, as a member of the media, take offense to how these so-called journalists have chosen to take sides. I may be simple-minded because I chose to remain in agricultural media, but I’m still part of the media. I interview, photograph and tell the story of America’s famers and ranchers. I tell their stories in the most fair and balanced way possible. I may not always agree with what I’m listening to but I leave my bias and personal opinions out of my stories. I try to tell both sides. Truly, I don’t agree with mainstream media and all the misconceptions they’ve strewn about in this election.”
I still believe every word I wrote in that post, and feel even stronger about all the choices we, as Americans, have.
I started this post before the election and just couldn’t finish it, but on the way to school on election day, the boys knew I was going to go vote after I dropped them off. The oldest wanted to listen to his radio station and it was only appropriate they were playing an explanation of the Pledge of Allegiance when the station came on. Then they played the national anthem. My patriotism was running through my blood when I cast my ballot. I’m so very thankful to be able to vote, and let my little voice here in rural America be heard.
Lord only knows what the future will hold, and who our president will be. After the votes are finally counted and validated, I hope that person is a leader with the people in mind. As the United States government was not formed to govern the people, but to be governed by the people.