I originally wrote this in a non presidential election year. As I think about tomorrow, I find it more compelling that so many Americans will choose to not vote. My family left a country and came to the US because of a dream of freedom to be and live a better life. Please VOTE!
One of the fundamental things about coming to these United
States has been the opportunity to vote in elections. It wasn’t until I turned
18 (1982) that I was able to apply for Citizenship. I did so almost immediately
given the opportunity.
I recall as far back as 1972 (during that election) that we had discussed the presidential election in school. We even had the opportunity to conduct a mock vote at our school. I also recall one of the other students telling me that I could not vote since I was born in a different country. My teacher that year even referred to my sister and I as “those Portuguese children.” The tone was clear; ultimately, we were allowed to vote in the mock school election.
So, upon turning 18, I began the process. I had already been through the process with my grandparents. I spent nearly a year from 1977 to 78 helping them study for the Naturalization test. In my pursuit, I recall going down to the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) office at the Federal building in Downtown Los Angeles. The lines were always long, and it always seemed like an all-day wait. In fact, on two different occasions I arrived at one o’clock in the morning to get in line since only the first 100 people would get a number to be seen that day. That process is what was expected at that time. My good friend, Bob Montes, spent a long night in front of that building with me and I am grateful for his companionship.
It was nearly 3 years to complete and I also recall going to
that seem building for the Naturalization event and then being moved to the
convention center (about 4 miles away) for the actual ceremony. Til tI have all my
paperwork and the letter from then President Ronald Reagan welcoming me to the
United States as a Citizen. I COULD NOW VOTE.
I have done so in 34 elections. Yes, it has been 36 years and I missed two elections due to moving once and a second time when the only two items to vote for were local judges. I rationalized that I did not know enough about them to vote.
Tomorrow, America has the opportunity to go to the polls and determine who we want to represent us in our government for the next few years (locally, state wide and nationally). There may be other measures on your ballot as well.
For me, I will be voting the way that I believe makes the most sense to me. I consider the person and their integrity and as much about who they are as a person as I can find. Research about candidates is easier now than it has ever been. You can find so much information out there.
I also believe that whomever we hire to do the work of representation
needs to be clear about their roll. If they have had the position and you
disagree with their performance, like any job, they may not be the right fit.
Consider changing that person not because they are blue or red, but because
they are not doing what they were hired to do.
I have had the great opportunity to interview nearly 5400
people over the years for working at camp and have hired nearly 2200. I believe
that past performance is the greatest predictor for how someone will perform in
the future. This is a method I have adopted into my voting pattern as well.
I have voted left and right. I have worked on a national presidential campaign. I have contributed to causes and candidates. I have, in fact cherished the American experience and hopefully demonstrated it for my children so that they will hold and cherish it as well. And I have voted with the mindset that not all people have this opportunity and I cherish that.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to vote. I have to say that I have not always exercised that opportunity as I noted above. I consider my family stories of oppression and lack of opportunity in my birth country.
It is an inalienable right that will always be here and we
all need to make sure that to preserve it, is to practice it.
Please Vote and thank you for letting me be a part of these
United States for over 52 years.