Before I lost my dad this past summer, every time I would step off the elevator at the nursing home to head to his room I would hear the familiar sound of his television blaring one of the many news programs he watched consistently. And as comforting of a sound as it was for me, I’m sure not everyone was as amused. You see, political banter for my dad was like sports for others. And he watched all the channels and pundits, no matter the political persuasion or whether or not he agreed with them. How else would he have been fully informed, he would reason.
From the time we were young, he taught me and my sisters to have an opinion on things. In fact, he expected us to have opinions on things. But he also taught us that we better know why we believed something and be ready to back it up with facts. And not just facts that supported our point of view. No, we needed facts from all sources, multiple sources. And, boy, did he challenge us on that–especially me.
I was his debate partner. We both loved to push each other for the sake of the argument and the joy of hearing someone else’s perspective on a topic. Sometimes, in fact, my dad would take a position opposite of mine–even if it wasn’t his–for the sake of teaching me to be a critical thinker. It is a gift for which I am extremely grateful.
As he got older, my dad’s tolerance for what our elections have become lessened. There was too much emotion and not enough facts for him. If someone’s political belief didn’t align with yours, you didn’t discuss, you attacked. I remember him commenting once that he thought adults discussing politics reminded him exactly of how parents try to teach their children not to speak.
From the moment this most recent election cycle started ramping up last year–actually, even before then–my dad was preparing for today, for this election, for this moment in our country’s history. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see it through. And, thanks to COVID, I didn’t get the chance to sit and talk it through with him and benefit from his insights and wisdom. For that I’m heartbroken. But I’m also more determined than ever that I will make sure my voice and vote matters. I voted today. Did you?