Election Day is tomorrow (*finally*). In the morning, I will take my son and daughter with me to my polling place. As always, I’ll enjoy seeing them get unnaturally excited to get an “I Voted”sticker that I hope I remember to remove from their shirts before washing. I will mark my very long ballot, put it in the machine, and note how many ballots have been cast with that machine thus far. (Always assessing turnout). It will be the seventh time I have voted in a presidential election.
As I make my choice for President, I will be thinking of many family members and friends, but especially my paternal grandmother, Lillie Ruth Joplin Randolph, pictured above with a 10-year-old me and my adorable baby cousin. More than anyone else in my childhood, Grandma Ruth influenced my thoughts on politics. We spent a lot of time at her house because we lived in the same town. I would often sit and watch the news with her. (She also let me watch “The Golden Girls” and “Solid Gold”). She was a proud Democrat and did not hide her disdain for Ronald Reagan. She read the newspaper every morning. If we grandkids had stayed the night, I’d find her in the morning in her kitchen, hair full of curlers, coffee cup in one hand, the paper in the other, standing over the floor furnace vent to stay warm. I don’t really remember a lot of what we talked about regarding politics, but what stuck with me was an interest in current events and the opportunity to participate in our political process. She also described the Reagan Republicans as only being interested in protecting the wealthy from paying taxes.
I think many of us will be thinking of mothers and grandmothers tomorrow. My senator, Claire McCaskill, said at a rally I attended on Saturday that she would be remembering her mom. The stories of women who were born before women gained the right to vote move me to tears. Like 2008, this is an incredible moment in the life of our country.
I realized a couple of weeks ago that regardless of the outcome tomorrow night, I will be “ugly crying” on my couch. That my daughter may grow up seeing a woman as President is a tremendous opportunity to show her a woman as a leader who has worked hard, made mistakes, and overcome significant obstacles to achieve the highest elected leadership post in the world. I want my son and other little boys to see it as well. If we’re going to change how the world sees women as potential leaders, we have to teach young boys to see them that way.
Grandma Ruth worked in a factory in World War II, taught school, and helped my Grandpa Max with bookkeeping for the family farm equipment business. She was a proud wife, mother, grandmother, and community volunteer. She died in 2005, and I cannot know for certain how she would have voted in this election. I do feel very confident that she would have absolutely loved seeing a woman on the ballot for a major party for President of the United States. And when I cast my vote, I most certainly will do it with tears in my eyes and Grandma Ruth in my heart. Who will you be remembering on Election Day?