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It takes courage to vote against family’s choice

Sunday, October 31, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:15 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It was like the old E.F. Hutton commercial where one word spoken by an individual quieted the entire room.

Last night, I had my bi-monthly dinner for the family. After clearing the table, the grandkids played in the yard while the adults sat around discussing politics.

Everyone was in agreement that this has been the nastiest election in recollection, and all were in agreement as to who should win come Nov. 2. At least we thought everyone was voting for the same presidential candidate until my oldest daughter, speaking barely above a whisper, announced that she was voting for the wrong side.

Once the moment of shocked silence passed, the entire family started talking at once —some shouted and I believe one daughter-in-law shrieked.

Finally, my husband, who has become a political fanatic as he has aged, spoke up.

“Have you lost your mind?” he queried. “You better explain yourself.”

I hadn’t heard those words since my youngest son was caught trying to sneak into the house at 3 a.m.

What made this admission even more amazing is the fact that of all my children, this one is the meekest. And although a leader in her profession, she has never been the one to go against the family tide.

While my husband grilled his daughter, I just stood there, mouth agape, staring at her.

She mumbled something about her job and how the election could change things for the worse.

“Then vote for X (I won’t use names while the election is undecided) for governor,” one of my sons replied. “That’s a state issue, not a national one.”

“Look here, young lady (our daughter is in her mid-40s),” my husband said as he looked at his first-born as if she had just sprouted a second head. “I don’t know where you’re coming from, but the man you want in the White House is a liar.”

“Well, Dad, you could say that about both men,” she said with just enough respect that my husband didn’t lose his temper.

I finally found my voice and decided to join in the fight.

“So you’re really an undecided voter,” I said.

“I didn’t say that,” she responded. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to negate one of your votes.”

I tried another tactic.

“If you don’t vote with the family, we’re going to cut you out of the will,” I proclaimed. “It will read, ‘everything is to be divided among the six children with the seventh who was a traitor to the family getting nothing.’”

She just laughed at my absurd threat.

“Very well, then. I’m going to kidnap you on Tuesday and you won’t be able to vote,” I said weakly.

My husband sat shaking his head and he actually said, “Where did we go wrong?” He’s gone a little crazy lately, politically speaking.

That was when he turned on me.

“It’s all the media’s fault and you’re one of them,” he said, shaking his finger at me.

“Stop wagging your finger at me before I break it,” I said. “I agree that the media have tried to manipulate the race, but it’s not my fault. I don’t own any TV stations.”

The other siblings decided to weigh in against their sister. They pushed every possible hot button, telling her that the war had to be won and what about stem-cell research, the economy and taxes. One daughter-in-law announced that the candidate my daughter was going to vote for was really ugly — as if that was the bottom line when choosing a president.

All of my kids and grandkids left agreeing to disagree. My husband spent the remainder of the evening mumbling to himself. I spent some time reflecting on my daughter’s bold announcement, knowing that she would be in the minority. I was very proud of her. It took a lot of guts to stand up to this crowd, and maybe she’ll come to her senses before it’s too late. Everyone’s entitled to make a mistake in his or her lifetime. Heck, even I made a mistake once — when I voted for Jimmy Carter.

If you have a comment that has NOTHING to do with the election in two days, please e-mail me at jdh@socket.net


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