Owen and my American Obligation

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My 15 year old son has decided who he will support this evening during Precinct Caucuses in Minnesota. He did so after spending weeks considering his options – reviewing the candidates’ positions – talking to others and gaining their perspectives – and weighing the relative strength of each candidates ability to get things done and lead America forward.

Who he has chosen to support is his business. Whether I agree with his choice or not is unimportant.

What is important is that my 15 year old son who is neither old enough to vote at a Precinct Caucus – nor in November’s General Election – felt strongly enough about his civic duty to his nation and his future to make the effort to understand his choices.

He will attend his first Precinct Caucus tonight, eager to learn what others have to say, to understand how the process works and, thanks to his local Caucus Convener, be able to help volunteer to register those who will be attending their Precinct Caucus.

As I was driving him to school this morning he asked me who I was going to support at the Precinct Caucus I am eligible to attend.

Without much more than a casual comment I told him I would be going to my cabin tonight and that I wasn’t likely to go to my Precinct Caucus because it wasn’t going to make any difference.

It was at that intersection of 15 year old boy and 52 year old Dad that I was immediately confronted by my hypocrisy.

For years I have told anyone who will listen, including my children that every vote counts. That it is the civic duty and responsibility of every American to get engaged in the process.  To make public service a part of their American life.

To me, voting is among the most sacred of rights and privileges as an American citizen. It is why I have supported requiring voter identification at the polls throughout my entire adult life as a way to ensure that those who are voting are actually who they say they are.  The grateful honor of being able to choose who our elected officials are is something I have never taken for granted.

So much so that when I have found myself confronted with a choice between voting for someone I truly cannot support or not voting at all I have made the choice to simply not vote at all.

I have to be honest. I would rather be at my cabin tonight.  I would rather be sitting in my hot tub, under the stars, listening to nothing at all.

Yet, when my son looked at me and reminded me that participation in the democratic process continues to decline – that voter participation in America is at some of the lowest levels in our history – and that isn’t it my civic duty to participate – I shamefully agreed that it was, and it is.

See, this year’s Precinct Caucus for me isn’t about my choice about who to support. It truly has come down to who I intend to oppose.

For no matter whether I choose to support Senator Marco Rubio or Governor John Kasich my decision will be weighted much more by my desire to stop Donald Trump.

Never, in my lifetime, have I ever found myself so repulsed by a public figure. Someone whose very essence defiles the principles of democracy that I find to be central to my existence as an American.

Donald Trump is the standard bearer for every American bigot, racist, misogynist, anti-Semite, anti-constitutionalist and anti-immigrant in this year’s 2016 Presidential Election.

I am, first and foremost, an American loyalist. I believe in American Exceptionalism.  I embrace our nation’s shortcomings as the first step towards us realizing our full potential for liberty and freedom for all people.

Is our nation still too racist? Still too sexist?  Still too unwilling to accept that every American has the right, under our laws and Constitution, to the absolute pursuit of life, liberty and happiness?

Yes.

Yet, knowing that Donald Trump threatens all that I love about America – that which exists and that for what we must strive to achieve – I would have glibly traded my place at a Precinct Caucus to someone else so I could rest comfortably at my cabin.

My son is not me, and I am not my son. He is not a miniature reflection of anything about his Dad.

There’s nothing “Junior” about Owen Francis Mische.

He and I find ourselves on different places when it comes to our politics – often times on our policies – and most certainly on what bands we both enjoy.

This morning my son reminded me of two things. My words have mattered. And, I have an obligation as an American.

They mattered enough to him to have cared enough about his future to focus on studying his choices for who will lead his country forward. They mattered enough to him to make the effort to attend an event where, while he cannot vote, he can have a voice and he will share it and he will make a difference.

I love my cabin.

I love America more.

My son reminded me of that this morning.

And, for that I love him the most.d

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