My husband and I sat down with my oldest daughter last week to help her vote for the first time. I'm not going to go into how I voted and whether I'm for or against this or that, I'm just going to comment on the process.
Years ago, my daughters established political commercials were a bunch of garbage not to be believed. To them these commercials are little more than middle school squabbling by grown-ups. My oldest daughter even used these smear campaigns in 2010 to create a video report on how propaganda created media frenzy in real life compared with the propaganda frenzy in the book "1984.”
So as we sat there guiding our daughter through the voting process, we knew the only thing commercials served in our decision was to emphasize the passion of the issue. Then there is all that stuff on the ballot we aren’t aware of. One year we Washington State voters apparently let a political monger out of the bag and he's been on the hunt for initiatives ever since.
One of those initiative we approved was when our Washington legislature does its job without having a vote of the people, it needs to appear on the ballot AFTER the fact so we can decide if they made good decisions or not.
Here are all the Senate bills we had to decide if they could maintain or appeal: Substitute Senate Bill 5444, Senate Bill 5627, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1846, Second Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1971, Engrossed House Bill 2075. When you read them they don't make any sense and keep in mind they've already been decided on and we just needed to decide whether these decisions should be maintained or repealed.
My daughter was in despair about not understanding or knowing the issues when she sat down, but these bills that were decided "without a vote of the people" sent her over the edge. You start to feel really small when faced with a voter's ballot you don't understand. You felt like a fairly intelligent person when you sat down, but then you're not so sure anymore.
Don't despair young one, you have now officially joined the club.
So my husband and I walked her through it. I read every issue out loud from the brochure, if we didn't understand it, I Googled it. Then we talked about it and cast our vote, armed with our new knowledge. It's just a good thing we only have mail-in ballots in Washington State, because when you go to a voting poll booth, I'm not sure if they let you copy off each other's papers or work in a group.
I remember as a child my parents would go to the voting booth and when they came home I'd ask them who they voted for. They told me people didn't talk about who they voted for; it was something to be kept to themselves. Why? It wasn't like I was asking if they lied about their weight on their driver's license or what they said in the confessional. I brought it up to my mom and she didn't know why they kept it a secret; except maybe to defer any disagreements.
So we slogged (I always use that word when describing politics because it fits best) through our ballots. When we got to all the people we didn't know running for offices we didn't know about, my youngest daughter started yelling from the other room, "I don't like that person. Don't vote for them." "Anyone who starts a sentence with 'I am the best candidate for the job' is just being conceited." "How'd he/she ever get on the ballot?"
Don't fret young one, you'll be in the club soon enough and you can make those decisions on your own.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is still puzzled over the voter’s pamphlet. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.