Election Day


“Vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but vote”

~ From The First Family

Another election day is approaching, and there will be several changes… and some things staying the same. But I think perhaps the most important question is… do you even care?

More than three decades ago, a friend of mine stumbled across one of his mother’s record albums. It was from a group of comedians, led by Vaughn Meader. And oh lord, can I tell you stories. In fact…

On any election day… not just the one that has me writing today… there will be winners, losers and surprises. But most amazingly, there will be apathy.

Think about this… not too much more than half of the population in the United States that is eligible to vote in an election doesn’t. And if we aren’t picking a president? Stunning… not much better… all bets are off.

2010… Rhode Island. An independent candidate wins the office of governor. He does so by amassing an impressive total barely exceeding one-third of the vote. (Wish I was kidding.)

But that’s the whole process… isn’t it?

A democracy.

We vote.

And if someone with one-third of the vote has the most votes, they can win.

Yeah… you would be correct at reading some sarcasm in that observation. I wish more people would vote. I’m not asking for showing up during the primaries. And I’m not looking for overwhelming numbers when party elections are held. But at least every other year in November, it would be nice to see two-thirds or more of the country exercise a right that many people around the world aren’t even offered.

Which brings us back to The First Family.

Does it matter which Kennedy you vote for? No. It doesn’t. Vote for the one you think best.

But vote.

Let’s leave Election Day for a moment or two and move along to a different story.

It was about thirty years ago, and I was visiting a friend. The details of why I was there don’t come quickly to mind.

Was it after a soccer practice? Were we working on a project for school? Had I gone over to his house to hang out?

Don’t know.

What I do remember was he had a record album that belonged to his mother, was claiming it was hysterical, and wouldn’t quit talking about it until I finally asked him to play it.

It… was… fantastic.

And what is so incredible to me, something that becomes more and more incredible, is how much of the material we didn’t understand even though we believed we understood most of it.

Sure… ten years old… twelve years old… fourteen years old. We had heard of John Kennedy. We knew of his presidency. We knew of all the Lincoln and Kennedy… Kennedy and Lincoln comparisons. And NASA and the United Nations and…

But legendary football games on the lawn? Subtle nods to political stories? Nope. Probably missed on many of those.

Still… hysterical.

And it provided an amazing lesson.

Know your audience. You can’t please everyone. The world is a strange place, viewed from many differing perspectives.

We move ahead to 1985. I’m dating a girl at the time, and had met her parents on several occasions. Her father was a bit of a political junky. Hard to find the words that describe it any other way. He had his political opinions… he liked to share them… and he was fairly knowledgeable as far as history was concerned. (We can kindly leave the description there. (And I am being kind leaving it there.))

One evening the talk had, for whatever reason, turned back to the magical Washington days of Camelot. We were discussing Kennedy.

In the blazing naïve nature of youth, I mentioned that I had heard this album that was beyond funny and focused on Jack and the Kennedy clan.

He wanted to hear it.

I found a copy, played it, and as a response was treated to a lecture about how spectacularly unfunny, rude, insensitive and inappropriate it was.

Turned out he didn’t think a joke about water skiing was all that strongly crafted. And, when united with poking holes in his placed-on-a-pedestal president, well… you get the idea. He wasn’t happy. In that vision nestled in the back of my mind, cranky seems a bit more appropriate as a description.

Politics makes a wonderful companion piece to life. There are winners and losers. There are amazing stories… of meteoric rises… of indescribable collapses. Candidates do all the right things… candidates take perfect aim at their own feet.

And… quite often… the simply beyond belief occurs.

In 2010 Rhode Island elected a new governor. The winner barely cleared a third of the popular vote. I am not kidding: the top two vote getters didn’t combine for 70% of the vote. He was still sworn in as the leader of the state. The second place candidate didn’t contest the results.

In 2010… because, sure… Rhode Island again… one candidate ran for state office with the expressed, not a secret, top objective of winning so he could abolish the office. Perhaps unfortunately, that candidate didn’t win.

Politics is an amazing thing. I wish more people cared. The results of any national election, including a presidential run, do matter. As this craziness moves along, is seems people have selective memories and misguided thoughts for the future. Selective and misguided because so few have given even a small amount of thought to the power of their vote and the people they will select to represent their interests. (Or… more scary… that they won’t vote at all.)

(And what should they remember? Well… of course… “the rubber swan, is mine.”)


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com