I have many wonderful memories from growing up but none as strong as walking by my parents in the dining room, overhearing their discussions on how they were going to vote for something during election season. Mom and Dad shared a ballot since Mom was a US Citizen and Dad was not. They studied and discussed issues together and decided how they would vote on something. The evenings were long and the discussions drawn out.
My father preached the values of the Republican party. He never expected us to follow his path. He only cared that we vote, that we learn, and that we consider not just ourselves but the world around us. He believed deeply and wholly that voting was the highest honor. When I was in college, he would get my absentee ballot and make sure Mom forwarded it to me with enough time for me to study issues and make informed decisions.
While he watched more Fox news than I cared for and shook his head at my collegiate idealism, he loved that I was an engaged, thoughtful kid. I'll never forget the day, my - I assumed - die hard conservative father lobbied for their shared vote to go to Bill Clinton. It rocked my world. To paraphrase his long explanation, "Laur, the world before the party." It left a huge political impression on me.
Dad became a US Citizen just in time to cast his one and only vote in a presidential election. He voted for W. He could barely walk to the polling place because he was so weak by then. My mom took the morning off so they could vote together. His smile was huge that day and he proudly wore his "I Voted" sticker on his robe. He slipped into his coma and died soon thereafter. We joke that he finally was able to let go because a Republican was back in office.
With less than 100 days until election time, I am researching and fact-checking the candidates and the media, asking myself WWDD? the whole time. It's a great, powerful voice in my head. I continue to eavesdrop on conversations as I did as a child. I hear a lot of misinformed rhetoric from both sides and it is only now that I understand fully, the great gift he left behind