Friday Five: Civic Duties
1) How old were you when you voted for the first time?
I was 21. I'm old enough that that's how old you had to be. I registered to vote the day of my 21st birthday; it was the only "rite of passage" that actually took place on that day.
2) What was the contest at the top of the ballot?
That one is easy. It was the year of a presidential election and it was Nixon vs. McGovern. I would have voted for Nikita Khruschev instead of Nixon. I was in grad school at the time and had to drive home - about a 2 hour drive - in order to actually cast my ballot. I never told my Dad who I voted for; it would not have made for pleasant dinner conversation.
I think that was the last election I felt really passionate about. Since then I really want a "none of the above" choice on the ballot most of the time. Most of the time I vote against the one I like less, rather than for the one I like more. At least on a state and national level. On the local level I know the people better and can make a choice based on my knowledge, rather than what the spin-doctors have told me.
3) Can you walk to your polling place?
Yes, but I don't because I'm lazy, and because I'm usually on my way to somewhere else.
4) Have you ever run for public office?
I once toyed with the idea of running for school board, but I'm too much of an outsider. Here unless your grandmother went to school with my grandmother, you're a newcomer. And getting 3 sympathy votes wouldn't do anything for my ego or my public image.
5) Have you run for office in a club or school or on a board?
I don't like being in charge of things. I sometimes get elected - but I try to avoid that happening when at all possible. And I absolutely refuse to be treasurer of anything. Every time I do, it ends up costing me money.
One of the advantages of being a pastor is that I can stay politically neutral. I have clergy friends who do put signs in their yards and attend fundraisers for candidates, but I'm not sure how I feel about that. The evangelicals clearly have no problem with not only publically supporting candidates but telling their congregations from the pulpit how to vote. I have worked on elections in my community, but I do things like promote candidate forums, and encourage people to think about the character of the people they choose; there's not even a hint of supporting one over another. It seems to me that this is another one of those tightropes we clergy are continually being asked to walk with no safety net.