Voting has always been a big part of my family’s life. When I was a kid, my Grandpa Kavanagh (my mom’s dad) was on the Michigan Supreme Court and every 8 years he would run for his seat. We would spend weeks and weeks stuffing envelopes, canvassing neighborhoods passing out campaign literature and attending fund raising events. Even in most of the off years we were involved in someone’s campaign. My Gramps was always working for some other Democratic candidate and as a result so were we. Election day would finally arrive and off we would troop to the fire station to cast our ballots….of course it was my parents who were casting their ballots but boy did we feel like we were a part of the process.
Times were simpler then. Campaigns could be run on a shoestring even for State Supreme Court Justice and they consisted of bumper stickers and yard signs and leaflets….not tv ads and mud slinging….until 1984 when my Gramps last ran for office. He was running his usual race, spouting his usual liberal rhetoric but times were changing. The liberal 70s were done and Ronald Reagan was in the White House and the Republican Party in Michigan slated Dorothy Comstock Reilly. She was quite conservative and a real contrast to my Gramps in many other ways. It was a time when there had only been one woman on the state supreme court (Mary Coleman…a gem of a woman) and the conservative winds were blowing strong.
My Gramps was definitely liberal but he always was regarded with great respect as a man who could see both sides of an argument and would think through the pros and cons of each. He wouldn’t side on the ‘expected’ or ‘liberal’ side always and was a staunch Catholic, in the old style where social justice and caring for those less fortunate took center stage. He was personally pro life and yet felt it wasn’t government’s job to ‘legislate morality’ as he called it. It was this dichotomy that proved his downfall. He had his personal convictions but felt that his views were not ‘right’ necessarily. For him it was always a question of the law and what it mandated as opposed to forwarding his own personal agenda. As I grew older and began to stretch my own political muscles, my Gramps and I would occasionally disagree but I always felt that he took my idealistic collegiate passions seriously and respected me.
I happened to marry someone even more interested in politics than I am and although we are often at odds with regard to whom we will be voting for, we talk about the candidates, the proposals and the importance of voting. We share our views and our excitement about the election to come with the kids and hope to show them that no matter what your personal views on the issues and candidates are, the opportunity to vote is not to be forsaken!
Vote early, vote often, and take your kids to the polls and each election day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center