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With the politics of the day so in the forefront of our lives, I wonder how we as individuals came to be listed in the political party we are. I wonder how many of us made a conscious choice as to how we are registered to vote.
I am sure some made that decision but I think probably not as many as we would guess.
In 1972 I went to the courthouse to register to vote. The clerk asked “how do you want to register”? Meaning what party – Democrat or Republican? I responded that I guess an Independent as I intended to vote for the candidate based on my judgement of their merits and position on issues. (this sounds like I thought I had enough sense to do this at 18 years old — I know now I did not — not at all — and still may not if the truth were known).
The lady was horrified – told me I would never get to vote except maybe once every four years. She decided I just needed to register as a Democrat so I could vote in all elections held in that area as nobody but Democrats ran for any office at that time and location. So by chance I have been a registered a Democrat for 50 years.
No matter how I was registered all these years I have always voted for the person — not the party — and will continue to follow this policy as long as I vote.
I have wondered how my chance registration has been considered by pollsters, candidates and the party itself. I also wonder if other people became a member of a particular party by chance.
People tend to think of themselves as unique and in charge of their life. Based on my experience with registering to vote I think not so much. I could have changed the registration at some point but why? It is true that now most offices are held by the Republican party but I can, and do, continue to vote for what I consider the person for the office. So why be concerned in the least as to how I am classified by a county courthouse somewhere or a politician I have no use for to begin with.
In years past voter registration offices had another unforeseen effect. It actually changed peoples last names. Over generations this caused some families to lose track of relatives. This happened because at one point in our history there were a good number of people who did read and write — not unintelligent, but not educated — and when registering to vote would be asked “do you spell you name ____” and rather than acknowledging their inability to write would answer “yes,” whether or not that was the correct. I am guessing when I assume this happened routinely, but I know it happened from knowledge of a family with one branch in Canoe, Ala. and another in Pensacola, Fla.
Again lives affected by chance alone. Not to any great detriment but affected none the less. This line of thought may come under the heading of “I would rather be lucky than smart.” Most of the time I feel that I am probably neither.
And then I think about my grandchildren and realize how blessed I truly am. (I prefer blessed to lucky.) Maybe not smart (but smarter than I look) but blessed beyond belief.
May all be as blessed.
N. L. Robinson lives in Thomasville. He enjoys reading newspapers and keeping up with the news.
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