Today was the annual holiday parade. We didn’t go last year because it was cold and Anna wasn’t going to remember it anyway. We all went this year. Anna, me, my dad, and my mom.
Now you have to understand that my mom doesn’t really do parades. She likes the marching bands, but that’s about it. So when I was growing up, my dad was always the one to take my brother and me to the parade* (or most parades for that matter). And we discussed and debated about her coming. Since the parade was always a special Daddy thing, we all kind of want it to be a special Anna-and-Gpa(-and-maybe-Mamma) thing, too. But she still isn’t really going to remember this year, so we all, including my mom (who doesn’t really do parades but kind of wanted to see Anna at her first holiday parade), agreed that we all should go.
And it was cold, but not too cold. And we found a sunny spot not to far from the beginning of the route. Anna watched it intently. She pointed out the snowmen, but other than that, it was hard to tell whether or not she was enjoying herself. Until it was over. When she didn’t want to leave. She would have stayed sitting on the curb watching the cars go by if we’d told her they were part of the parade.
As for me? It was unexpectedly cathartic. When the WMU band marched by, playing their fight song, I started to cry. I don’t know why that was my trigger. It seemed like the entire city was out. We were a community together. Different colors, ages, faiths, all reveling in the same joy.
I cried a little on Wednesday. Today I wept.
*Those things you learn when you’ve grown up. When I was a kid, it was the Gilmore’s Holiday Parade. My dad worked at Gilmore’s, and he worked the parade every year. He wasn’t in it. He worked at the staging area. I don’t remember this. At all. I have vague recollections of going to the staging area once, but I think that was after the parade. But my mom never took us to the parade. It was something we did with my dad. So, yeah, while waiting for the parade to start, my mom called my brother to see what he remembered about going to the parade when we were kids. We think we figured it out. Daddy and Matt left early and went to staging. Mommy must have dropped me off a bit later. But this still means my dad took at least one of us to work every year as part of taking us to the parade.
The first president I can remember is Ronald Reagan. But he wasn’t president when I was born. Jimmy Carter was. I’m saddened today to think that the first president my daughter will remember is Donald Trump. But I’m glad that I’ll be able to remind her that the president when she was born was Barack Obama.
The classicist in me can’t help but look back. We compare ourselves to Rome and Greece. We are not an Athenian democracy. Our government is much closer to that of the Roman Republic. People tend to focus on the fall of the Roman Empire, but we should think about how the Roman Republic fell. Augustus Caesar did not call himself “emperor”. He was the First Citizen. The Roman Republic didn’t fall in glory. It was chipped away at until the Senate did not have enough power to override the decisions of the First Citizen. Why was Julius Caesar murdered by members of the Senate? To protect their power.
Do not read that wrong. We are better than Ancient Rome. We can use the lessons of their history. We can encourage our legislative branch to act as the check on the executive branch our founders designed them to be.
Yes, today I weep. Today I mourn for the world my daughter is growing up in. Today I am sad that half of my country voted to return to a glorious past that didn’t exist for the other half of my country.
And tomorrow? Tomorrow I will stand up and continue to do what I can to make at least my corner of the world a better place.
You may have heard that there’s an election tomorrow. Unless you’ve been living… I don’t know where. I suspect that even people in caves or under rocks are aware that there’s an election tomorrow. And I say this every time there’s an election. Go. Vote. I don’t care who you’re voting for. Just do it. Exercise your right to vote.
But that’s not completely true.
I do care who you’re voting for. Of course I do. I want the candidates I’m voting for to win. (And you can probably guess which candidates those are.)
I’m not saying I want you to tell me. Unless you really want to tell me. We have a secret ballot. Who you choose to vote for isn’t my business. But of course I care. I have strong opinions about the purpose of government. In general, one candidate represents my opinions and the other doesn’t. So I don’t really want you to vote for the other one.
But even if you’re going to vote for someone else. Even if I don’t agree with your politics, I still think you should vote.
Even if you don’t want to vote for either of them, I still think you should show up to the polls. You can leave that part of your ballot blank. There’s a lot more going on this election that what’s at the top of the ballot.
There’s still time. This election, I highly recommend Google for finding out about the people on your ballot. I picked up the League of Women Voters non-partisan guide at the library, but I still had to Google in order to find info about the local library board and school board candidates.
The election is tomorrow. I hope all of you who are eligible go and vote. I’ll be at the polls* once I drop Anna off at school.
*Wearing white. In case you haven’t figured out my politics by now.