“My vote never counts”, my friend Jim laughed in the exaggerated, self-deprecating manner that people sometimes adopt when expressing something they know is likely to bring scorn.
I was barely listening to the chatter from the work-group trapped in the 12-passenger van headed south on 135 on a late-October day in 2012. I was the only outsider in the group of rural, mostly-younger working-class males.
Jim is middle-aged, straight, white and a much-beloved grandfather. And he was a high-status member of that particular group. Therefore his self-deprecating affectation struck me as odd and I wondered about it for several years. Jim and I never talked politics, but a few months ago, it finally it occurred to me that Jim is a person with a traditional, 1950’s Kansas view of the world.
To survive in a rural Kansas community that moved so far to the right after Obama was elected, he would have been forced to learned to keep his head down among the Fox-News-consuming Republicans of today’s Central Kansas, that was taking shape just eight years ago.
And he was correct. For the past thirty years or so, anyone who still sees America as Dwight
David Eisenhower and his generation did - a place where we all are responsible for one another - could never have voted in Lyons, Kansas, for a winner; not at the local level, the state level, or for national office.
But this year, in this awful, pandemic time, my friend Jim has a good chance to replace a far-right, self-serving Republican with a moderate Democrat to represent Kansas in the U. S. Senate. He even has a long-shot chance to elect someone who is the opposite of a Koch Brothers suck-up to represent him in the U. S. House!
That’s why I hope my old friend hasn’t given up the voting habit. I hope he ventured out to vote for Laura Kelly two years ago, then watched in amazement as, for the first time in decades, his candidate won a state-wide election. If so, he will know that he can vote again this year and win again.
We have witnessed our so-called well-oiled machine all but break down in disrepair due to the pandemic. It is never been more obvious just how much we need both a competent government and a caring government - federal, state and county. Your voice matters. Please don't stay on the sidelines.
(photo credit: Palo Alto City Library)