I wrote this for my local paper, thus the nonpartisan-ism of it. I'd had a request to talk about the McCain/Palin rally, so I decided to post it here.
The right to vote, suffrage, is something every citizen 18 years and older has a right to. That right is given to us by the constitution but it has not always been that way. In 1776 when our freedom as a country began only white males, 21 years of age, who owned land, were allowed to vote. Many of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were not allowed to vote. Women’s right to vote is less than 100 years old. Until 1971 a person could be drafted at age 18 but had to be 21 to vote. But what may be even more surprising to some is how recently, even in many of our lifetimes, some minorities were not allowed to vote. It wasn’t until 1940 that congress recognized Native Americans as citizens and seven years after that before they were given the right to vote. Though the 14th Amendment recognized African Americans as citizens in 1868 it wasn’t until 100 years later an amendment in 1965 was added stopping things like poll taxes and literacy tests that were used to prevent many from exercising their right.
Being now 19 and looking forward to the first election I’m allowed to have a voice in, I felt it was my privilege and responsibility to learn more about those I will be asked to have an opinion on. In February of this year, I attended an Obama rally, and earlier this month I went to a McCain/Palin rally at the local airport. I stood for hours to see each of them.The line to see Obama was at least a mile long. From where we were, we couldn’t see the end of it, yet for over an hour people continued to stream past us to line up. While the McCain/Palin rally didn’t have nearly as many attendees as Obama’s rally, due to the smaller space of the airport hangar, and perhaps the fact that it was on a Friday morning when many people were at work, it was as crowded as the area would allow. There were a few bleachers set up for the volunteers and dignitaries, but the majority of us stood the entire time. From where I was standing, I could see no end to the crowd.
To my disappointment, neither said very much about what their concrete plans were, and more about their ultimate goals. I realize that this is because most of the attendees would have known more about the candidate’s plans than I did, and the rallies were meant for their supporters to become even more enthusiastic.
Each rally had live music. Obama’s volunteers passed out signs saying “Change We Can Believe In” while McCain supporters were given red white and blue pom poms and signs that read, “Country First.” All were waved and accompanied by cheers whenever a speaker paused. Prominent members of each party were present at both the rallies and many gave their own enthusiastic brief speeches before the speaker(s) of honor thrilled the crowds.
I trust as November 4th comes we each will exercise the privilege we indeed do have. I plan to vote with pride as a citizen of the United States of America.