As I sit and watch the presidential debates, as well as the spiraling controversy regarding both parties, my heart sinks. I worry about the future of our country and I question the motives of the candidates that may soon lead it. I myself, have steered away from politics for most of my life. I was ignorant and never stopped to think about my own rights or personal opinions. I left it up to the politicians and trusted they would make the right decisions. After all, they are part of the elite. They are highly educated and have spent many years of their lives, building a name and reputation for themselves, in the hopes of one day, leading their peers to prosperity and a better way of life. Shouldn’t they know what is best? Shouldn’t they know how to discuss and bring people together?
As I sit and ponder these questions, I am reminded of the behavior and actions of our current political candidates, which puts doubt in my mind, regarding their abilities to resolve many of our countries troubling issues. And for the first time, I feel an emotional attachment to make the right choice. Not just for the sake of our country, but for the sake of my children’s future.
Being the daughter of a retired textile worker, I witnessed firsthand, the blood, sweat, and tears my daddy put into taking care of his family. His presence was absent most days, working long hours, often pulling double shifts, for the overtime pay. His off days were spent sleeping or attending church, giving thanks, for the little we had. If there was spare time in between, he spent it hunting or fishing.
Daddy was born a dirt poor farm boy from Alabama, raised with 10 brothers and sisters. They lived in a tiny, two bedroom farm house. Most people wouldn’t even call it a house, for it looked much like a shack. Looking back at my childhood memories, it was a place of fun and adventure. Land as far as the eye could see, farm animals grazing. To me it was a child’s playground, but to the farmer, it was their means of survival.
Daddy missed a lot of school when he was young. He and his siblings were needed on the farm. Everything else was secondary, including education. So, daddy quit school in the 8th grade, to work on the farm full time. When he was 15 years old, he got his first job in a cotton mill and there he worked for 30 years, until the company went bankrupt, forcing him to work for another cotton mill, making less money. And there he stayed, until his retirement.
Daddy was also drafted into the Vietnam war. There he spent two years of his life on the front lines of danger. He doesn’t speak much of those days, only that it was a kill or be killed menatality. He has spoken of the treatment shown by fellow Americans, upon his arrival back into the states. They were not welcomed with warm greetings, but instead received insults, while being spat on. His eyes have seen the unimaginable and he is forever haunted by the memories.
Growing up, I never fully appreciated or really even understood daddy’s sacrifices for family, God, and country, until now.
Raising my own children and being the sole bread winner of my own family, has given me a glimpse, of the weight which bore upon his shoulders. I am so very thankful for the work ethics passed onto me, but I am mostly thankful for the example he set before me.
Upon receiving my first job at 16, I also inherited responsibility. Now earning an income, I was required to pay for my own school clothes, gas money, and car insurance. (Daddy did buy me an old broken down Volkswagen Beetle, which he bought for $200. The car and I had a love hate relationship. I loved it when it was running, but hated it, when it would leave me stranded on the side of the road.)
I was resentful for having these responsibilities given to me, especially when my friends worked for nothing. I didn’t understand it then, but I am fully aware now. He was preparing me for my future. And now, I must prepare my children for theirs.
Having said all of this, I understand the anger and frustration of the working, American people.
They are tired.
Tired of working to make an honest way of living, providing for their families, but barely having enough to survive. They are tired of having their savings accounts drained, by expensive healthcare costs and never being able to get ahead. They are tired of the increasing economical costs, while pay increases remain dormant. They are tired of seeing an abused welfare system. They are tired of government assistance being offered to those who have never intended to work, earning a free ride through life, while depleating the hard earned workers Social Security. They are tired of our military not receiving the respect, they so rightly deserve. They are tired of the division, spreading across this country like a wildfire, and they are fearful of political uncertainty.
The American people are tired and they’re afraid.
How can I trust, when anger and fear is the objective? How can I respect, while avoiding scandalous representation? Most importantly, how can I vote for something, I cannot wholeheartedly believe in?
I am confused and unsure.
I now know, my vote is important. It will reflect the lives of the hard working man, such as my daddy, and it will ensure a bright, secure future for my daughter’s. My vote is valuable, reflecting everything I cherish.
Filled with uncertainty and praying for clarity.