Saturday, September 09, 2006

Coming Out


We moved back to Glenside almost exactly twenty-six years ago, after spending the first thirteen years of our married life in the South (at the whim of the United States Navy) and in the Midwest (Joe's college, graduate school, and first jobs). I told my mother that I hoped it wasn't too late to register to vote in the upcoming November election. She didn't think it was, and she offered some unsolicited advice: "Be sure to register Republican if you want any say in local affairs. It helps if you need to get a traffic ticket fixed, too." I wasn't concerned about the latter, but the former seemed important.
. . . .
Over the years, I hadn't heeded a whole lot of my mother's advice (she'd be the first to tell you that) but I did listen to her that time. It felt a little funny; since I was in high school and saw John Kennedy in person one day, I knew I was a Democrat. I voted in every election, primary or general, and every four years I gave both of the leading presidential candidates what I thought was a fair chance. It certainly wasn't my fault that the Democratic candidate always seemed to be the one worthy of my vote. The local politics stuff wasn't all that earthshaking. The most important local elections -- to me -- were those for school board. And they always cross-registered. I started to feel like a closet Democrat.
. . . .
But I'd registered Republican and never got around to changing it, even though it felt funny. I began to think about changing when Mr. Bush started a war in Afghanistan, but I didn't. Then he started a war in Iraq and the thought entered my mind again. But I always had other things to do, like pick up the dry cleaning, or empty the dishwasher, and I wasn't sure where to get the forms. And so I didn't do it. At the time of the 2004 election, the folly of leading a double life caught up to me. I began to get telephone calls from the Republican party. Some were recordings reminding me how important it was for me to re-elect President Bush. One was a recorded message from the President himself, asking me to give money to his re-election. I was appalled. But still I took no action. And -- needless to say -- I didn't vote for him.
. . . .
A few months ago Richard asked if I'd sign the petition to help get Josh Shapiro's name on the ballot for re-election to State Rep. I was delighted to agree. Josh has been an excellent State Rep and I was happy to give him my support. When Richard came by, we were both dismayed to realize I couldn't do it because of my Republican registration. My token Republicanism was beginning to get in my way.
. . . .
The war that should never have started continues. I went for the first time last winter to stand and hold a candle at a peace vigil because I wanted to do something.
. . . .
Yesterday, out of the blue, it occurred to me that I could do something more. I emailed Richard: "How do I get a form to change my registration? It's time." He brought the form by this afternoon. I filled it out and put a stamp on it. It felt good. The form goes in tomorrow's mail. I feel as though I've Come Out.

8 comments:

Susan said...

The government is out of control. We need more people like you who are willing to take a stand for what they believe, and not just be sheep following the pack.

Winters said...

thanks for the comment. it made my day. after putting hours into the design of the blog, finally a true "new viewer" gives positive feedback. i read your latest post about switching your party affiliation. good for you. i feel guilty about not voting in the upcoming election, but living in korea makes for a difficult time in exercising my civic duties. i would really love to vote absentee, but there isnt any way for me to do it. well, i'll stop by again soon. keep checking mine i post photos every other day or so. thanks again!
josh winters

Ms. Jan said...

You brought back some mighty fine memories and I've posted them on my blog. Gotta get like-minded people to the polls in November!

GreyHair said...

Say it loud and proud.

I AM a liberal.

KCQuilter said...

I just found your blog and it is wonderful--I'll visit often. Your quilt in your previous post is gorgeous. And yay, Democrat!!!

Anonymous said...

Ever since I could vote, I have stubbornly maintained no party affiliation, remaining one of those "independent" voters. Though my central Pennsylvania family was mostly Republican as I was growing up, to them, to them it was the party of Lincoln and of Eisenhower, (who first told us to beware of the military-industrial complex.) As I see it, the current party is neither; IIRC David Eisenhower wrote something to that effect shortly before the last election.

For me, the sole reason for enrolling in a party is to vote in primaries when there is a race within the party. In Ohio, where we lived for 10 years, an independent voter can go to the polls on primary election day and state which party's primary s/he wants to vote in, and do so. When I came back to Pennsylvania, I (re)discovered that this was not the case here, but in Glenside, as you say, Nancy, it doesn't seem to matter unless you're a Republican, so I sat out primaries... unhappily, but feeling like it didn't make much difference anyway. (However, I've always hated that cross-registration for School Board stuff -- if you're a member of a party, you should be willing to say so and not hide behind cross-registration!)

Over the years, I considered candidates from both parties (sometimes more than two!) and voted for the best person -- most frequently, I realized, the Democrat, but, in my determined "independence", I never pulled the big "straight party" ticket lever.

But with all that has been going on nationally and in the Commonwealth, I decided that I very much wanted to be able to vote in the Democratic primary for state offices last year. When I had to renew my driver's license last summer, I was asked the "motor voter" question of "do you want to register to vote" (no, I was already registered) and "do you want to make any changes to your registration". The AHA moment did not elude me and I realized that I could change my lack of party affiliation and (at the ripe old age of double-nickels) become a registered Democrat for the first time. Thank you to those who first championed the "motor voter" process!

I was almost glad that it was gray and dreary when I left the house this morning. Never thought I'd say that I regretted that the weather cleared and there's now blue skies and sun shining... But today, I do.

Marsha

Anonymous said...

p.s. Katie's senior project involves working for Josh's re-election.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.