Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Not throwing away my shot
After years of chastising folks for not taking the time to vote, I must admit to a bit of hypocrisy on my part. I did not cast a ballot in the special election just held to fill the district one Assembly seat that opened when Brian Dahle vacated his post for a Senate seat.
In my defense, I am a firm believer that the only thing worse than not voting, is voting in ignorance. There were five candidates. I simply did not do the work. Certainly, it is reasonable to have taken the time to research the candidates and cast my ballot. But I did not.
Part of my indifference to the special election is that regardless of who wins, my understanding is they will be hopping right back on the campaign trail in March, as their term is up next year anyway. It seemed a bit senseless. Maybe, if not enough people vote in these expensive, special elections, those in charge will develop a new system — possibly having the governor make an appointment for mid-term elections.
Special elections are not cheap — not for the counties who hold them or for those candidates vying to win them. Since none of the candidates garnered more than 50% of the vote, the top two will continue to campaign and another special election will take place in November.
That may have been my thinking … but more likely (if I am being completely honest) it is that the political landscape has worn me down. I am not proud of the fact. I could not muster the energy to do the work to make an informed decision. I believe the term is “voter fatigue.” But is that me giving away what little power I have in the process?
I do carry a bit of shame around my apathy. Now that we are down from five candidates to two candidates, I will do my due diligence and cast my informed vote this November. I am not ready to give up my right to vote, so I had better exercise it.
My eldest and I went to see the incredible production that is “Hamilton,” at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco a few weeks ago. It was an early birthday present to my first born who has a degree in theatre from the University of California, Santa Barbara and who spent five years living in New York City while Hamilton, dominated the Tony Awards, broke attendance records and commanded ticket prices far beyond our reach. It was a genuine pleasure give the tickets as a gift and even greater joy to attend together.
I have been listening to the soundtrack ever since. It is not lost on me that this incredible, brilliant, play is about the fight for freedom from tyranny, and the battles that took place to insure many of the liberties we enjoy today. Our flawed founding fathers fought across party lines, debated issues and did the best they could to establish a new form of government. As said by the man who ultimately killed Hamilton, “The constitution is a mess. It’s full of contradictions.” To which Hamilton replied, “So is independence. We have to start somewhere.”
The play sings and dances its way through the American Revolution, and the first three presidents. There is strife and discourse. These were flawed men doing what they believed to be right for the greater good. It is fabulous.
We left the affluent at the Orpheum and began walking our way back to our hotel which was just a few blocks away. Within minutes we left opulence behind and found ourselves amid the homeless, the mentally ill homeless and the drug addicted homeless. The extremely poor were curled up in doorways under tarps pitched along the sidewalk. I immediately realized we had made an error in judgment, but rather than turn back, forged ahead, nodding politely as we walked around those who had claimed the sidewalk for their bed.
We suddenly found ourselves silent as we saw what appeared to be heavily drugged humans and moved a bit quicker to get by some who were obviously suffering from delusion. It was a bit terrifying but much more heart wrenching. We soon turned the corner that would take us to our hotel and just as quickly were back into an environment of the privileged.
We walked by both protesters and supporters of one of the many democratic presidential candidates who happened to be speaking at a caucus held at the same place we were staying. I wondered if they had any notion of those suffering to survive less than two blocks away.
It was not lost on us that in the span of less than a ten-minute walk, we had seen the highs and lows of the result of the actions and inactions of those we trust to lead us.
I cannot complain if I do not exercise my right to vote. And I cannot give up on a system for which so many fought and died to give me the right to do so — be it “flawed and full of contradiction.” If I want to see change that might help those we passed on our way home from a night at the theatre, I need to make a concerted effort to vote for those who are like minded. It is a little bit more effort than checking a box and dropping a ballot into a box. The process deserves attention, time and effort. I would not want to go back to the days before democracy, so I need to do what I can to preserve it. And I am “not throwing away my shot.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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