Voting and Generations

“Who’d you vote for, Mama?”
“Dukakis,” Mama replied with big eyes and a wide smile. She almost sang the name.

I was young girl during the 1988 Presidential Election. Much of Dukakis’ loss was blamed on the independent candidate, Ross Perot. It didn’t matter. Within two years, the winner, George H.W. Bush had sent thousands of U.S. troops to war in Kuwait, including my best friend’s brother. Not long after, the country fell into a deep recession. It was the first election where the ramifications of voting, or not voting, began to sink into my young mind.

Today, I see voting as much more than a right. It is a responsibility. It is a responsibility some deem as the highest of citizenship, while others disregard it altogether. In a country that is supposed to be run by the people, voting should be a priority for every eligible citizen. Its importance should be taught in school curriculums nationwide. Its value should be emphasized every year as teenagers approach eligibility. Its privilege should be celebrated as a rite of passage with the same fanfare as getting a driver’s license. Educating a generation to become responsible drivers should not be more important than educating them to become responsible citizens.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick;
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Proverbs 13:12 NIV

As a South Carolina native, I have watched the Senate race closely. I’ve thought about my family and spoken with friends who still reside in Charleston county. Some are excited about the possibility of change. Others are skeptical. Black residents, of my mother’s generation, have seen their hope deferred for so long that some are doubtful change will come. They fought for rights that are continuously challenged. They have seen the dignity and humanity of their children and grandchildren be denied in the same manner they saw 50 years ago. It is no wonder they are doubtful. My prayer is they still have enough hope to take them to the polls.

I am hopeful that my vote encourages my mother’s generation. I hope they see the activism of today as a step towards completing the job they started yesterday. It is also my hope that today’s generation does not forget or devalue the foundation laid by those who came before us. It is our job to build upon that foundation. We are able to build with new tools provided with technology. But the most powerful tools we have, remains the same. Our voice and our vote.

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