I received the above letter from my dad a couple months ago. I love it for so many reasons. First, because it’s so my dad–typed on the word processor and printed on recycled office scrap paper, addressed to: “the children,” and accompanied by a news clipping–this time the Bill of Rights. Second, because he doesn’t send these types of things often–the few that I have are treasures. And third, because it lets me know what’s important to him.
My dad’s not a man of many words (although he’s gotten a little more verbose in his later years) so when he does speak, I listen. That doesn’t mean I always agree. In fact I think we do disagree on a few finer political points. It also doesn’t mean I always do what he says–I’m nothing if not an independent thinker/disliker of advice. But regardless, I listen.
And this time around, I can say that I’ve followed his instructions. I was already registered; voting has always been important to our family. Every election, my parents made it a point to make sure they got their “I Voted” stickers and mom dragged took us girls along as often as possible. I still remember the first time she took me into the voting booth to show me what it was all about. It was in the entryway of my elementary school–I couldn’t have been more than five or six–but even at that young age, I could sense the importance of it.
I can honestly say, I’ve voted in every election since I’ve been eligible. But I find that this year’s election is significantly important to me. I am so disturbed by the state of our country and am so disgruntled with my so-called “representation” in Washington. Voting isn’t enough for me this year. I want to be involved.
Tonight was the Republican caucus here in Utah. I’d never been before and quite honestly, I didn’t even know what a caucus was until tonight. And though I’d heard of “delegates,” I never really knew what purpose they served.
I so enjoyed standing to say the Pledge of Allegiance and I loved reading through the points of belief for the Republican Party. I don’t know that I’ve ever read through them like that. And while I do lean toward the moderate center of my party, I do know, and can say with confidence, that I believe in the conservative viewpoint.
When it was time for the nomination of state delegates though, I found myself a little frustrated. The first four names submitted were older men—fine men, certainly … but still. I nudged Frit and said, “Hurry. Nominate me. There needs to be a woman’s name up there.” Our bishop* was sitting next to us and his hand shot up immediately to place my nomination. I had no clue what I was getting into, but I knew there was no way I was going to let the women go unrepresented on the ballot.
When the nominations closed, there were seven names, two of whom were women, one of which was mine. Then I found out that we had to give speeches. I’ll admit, I had no idea what to say. The men who spoke before me were clearly more experienced and had greater knowledge of the issues at hand. But when it was my turn, I just tried to be as honest as possible—that I realized I was young and inexperienced, but that I was a hardworking, smart, comprehensive thinker, completely dedicated to studying out all the issues and candidates, along with their voting and attendance records, and that I would vote with the best interests of everyone there. I answered a few questions about my stance on abortion and the school system and then sat down.
After the votes were tallied, I came in fourth. Our two delegates had to win by 50% or more, so we eliminated the bottom two and voted again. In round two I was eliminated. And oddly, (for a girl who really likes to win, and generally does) it was fine. The two men selected, I happen to know personally and can say with full confidence that I trust them.
What I walked away with though, was an increased fire for making sure I’m more involved and honestly informed, as well as a belief in the importance of women being a part of this process. I have a whole heap of love and gratitude for this country, as broken as it is right now, and a reverent respect for the people who fought/fight for the freedoms we are supposed to enjoy. And tonight, in particular, I possess a humble admiration for the women who made themselves heard so many years ago, so that I could stand this evening with the men.
*A bishop in the LDS (Mormon) faith is a man who is called by God to act as a steward over a particular geographic location. He is responsible for the spiritual and physical well-being of all the people who live within that area and serves in the position without pay, in addition to his regular job and personal family responsibilities. Generally the “term of service” is about five years.