As I sit at home this morning browsing through campaign material, proposition information and candidate profiles, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I live in a country where my voice can be heard. Where my opinion matters and I am a part of the process. Where I have a say when it comes to changing this country for my family, my patients, and my future. The right to vote is definitely one of the rights that I value most. Why is that? Because that’s what I was taught.
From the time I was a very little girl, my parents taught me to cherish the right to vote. New legislation was always a passionate dinner table topic at my home. I remember my mom volunteering to register citizens to vote leading up to an election and it was my job to go with her week after week and pass out information on the importance of voting. I had to convince people why they should register and engage politically. At the time I was 11 years old, and it was such an amazing learning experience. By the time I was 13, my parents had me select the candidate I wanted to be governor and volunteer for his campaign. I spent hundreds of hours making cold calls to people all over the state of Arizona. (Yes, that’s right, you may have gotten a slightly annoying but important campaign voice message from 13 year old Dani.) I was so proud to have a role to play in the voting process, even if I couldn’t vote myself.
But most importantly, every election, I would sit and watch my parents vote. They would teach me why they would vote for or against certain candidates or propositions. I would watch them research, learn, and fulfill their moral obligation to their country through voting. It was always special.
When my turn came and I turned 18, I registered as soon as possible and when election day came I wore my “I voted today” sticker with so much pride. Today I will do the same thing, just like I have every election since my first. But I know this only happened because I was taught.
Where are all the other young voters? I have a feeling that the parents of my generation may have viewed voting as an important activity, but maybe not an important educational point for their children. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said:
Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.
Teach your children the importance of voting today. If you can, bring them to the polls with you. Tell them about American exceptionalism and the beautiful process of democracy that we are so blessed to experience. Let’s ensure our children get involved in shaping their own future by showing them the way.