Some mid-Missourians say they feel like being involved in politics is critically important. To find out what drives them, we're asking people about their political motivation and involvement. We have been periodically posting responses as part of our "Your Voices" election coverage.
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Here's the latest response in the series. It's from Wayne Behymer, a member of the Missourian's Readers Board. Behymer is twenty years retired from the life insurance business. He lives with his wife, Jo, of 51 years, just east of Columbia. The two are actively involved within the community and the Olivet Christian Church.
He dictated his thoughts on political involvement to Abby Eisenberg from the community outreach team, and she edited and organized his responses into the bolded questions listed below.
How are you politically involved?
As far as being politically involved, it’s mostly making contributions to selected candidates and maybe going to their fundraisers. Visiting with them face-to-face is, I think, much better than watching some political ad. I do watch the ads primarily in the print medium, and I will watch some of the editorials and letters to the editor, but as far as going around distributing yard signs, going door-to-door, no, I don’t do that.
Both my wife and I are long-time Boone County-ans. I wasn’t born in Boone County, but I moved here at an early age and my wife’s the same way, so we know tons of people. And sometimes we know both of the candidates in a particular race. If we put up one sign, even if we think one person is better qualified, we don’t want to get hurt feelings I guess, so rather than picking and choosing we just don’t do it, we don’t put up signs.
Why do you choose to spend time following politics?
I figure if I am not involved, then I have no right to gripe about the type of official or issue — I have no right to gripe about what we get. It is somewhat true, one vote makes very little difference, but if everyone felt that way, one vote would make the difference.
Was there a particular time in your life that prompted your involvement?
As far as when (I became politically motivated), I couldn’t tell you that. I know as a teenager, I was really looking forward to the time that I could vote for the first time. Honestly, I don’t remember whether (or not) they had lowered the voting age to 18 at the time — I don’t think so, I think you still had to be 21 to be able to vote. I doubt if I have missed voting in any election since (I became eligible). There may have been one city or county election that I may have missed because there were hardly any issues, and it would’ve only been if I was doing something else and the issue, whichever way it went, really made no difference.
What was exciting to you about voting?
To me, I guess it was one of the signs of coming of age. Even as a teenager I had followed the elections, particularly the presidential (ones). I guess the first one I followed was when I was a teenager, I couldn’t vote, but it was the first Eisenhower election. I think it was one that wasn’t settled until late the next morning, so I stayed up late on Tuesday night listening to the returns coming in on the radio. I guess I felt it was my duty.
We want to hear what you have to say. Please send us your motivations for being politically involved by filling out the form below or emailing us your response to submissions@ColumbiaMissourian.com. We're looking for a diverse set of answers — long or short, broad or specific — from people of all political persuasions. If there's someone you'd like to hear from, let us know or forward the invitation along.
This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor is Joy Mayer.