Ohio, Meet Your Newest Resident!

Remember when this was the election refrain heard coast to coast?

Florida, Florida, Florida!

Well, if you ask me, nowadays the refrain has changed a bit. So, instead of the Sunshine State, it’s the Buckeye State you hear about 24/7.

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio!

Which is why, I’m moving to Ohio.  After all, a gal like me likes a little attention now and then. And, what better place to get it, than Oh-HI-Oh, home of the Cincinnati Reds, America’s first professional baseball team, and where the official state rock song is, “Hang on Sloopy.”

Well, Sloopy, move over. From now on, if anyone’s doing the hanging in Ohio, it’s gonna be me.

Because being from Ohio means hailing from the number one SWING state in the land. It’s going to give me a lot of cache with the politicos, if you know what I mean. The powers that be. The grand poobahs, and all that.

In other words, I’m heading there to find out what it feels like to be wined and dined by none other than President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. We’re going to trip the light fantastic and dance the night away!

So, my bags are packed, my flight is booked, and I’m ready to go. From now on—or until Election Day, whichever comes first—my days will be filled with pep rallies, town hall meetings, community dialogues, a slew of robocalls, and watching a gazillion political ads all aimed at moi, an Ohioan from way back. And, by way back I mean today.

I better get a day planner so I can be sure to organize my schedule, which is going to be as full as Scarlett O’Hara’s dance card at the Confederate Ball. After all, I don’t want to miss any photo ops with the candidates, any pie-eating contests with Paul Ryan, arm wrestling with Joe Biden, shopping sprees with Ann Romney, or planting a Victory Garden with the First Lady.  And that’s just for starters!

After that, Ann and I will friend each other on Facebook, have a good laugh at the women on The View, for daring to expect the Romney’s to appear on their show. And, Michelle and I will exchange recipes for Stuffed Zucchini and Spicy Eggplant Salad. She’s a healthy eater, you know! Then, we’ll tease the president until he serenades us with another tune from the seventies. Or not.

I imagine that this is how Ohioans are spending their days, volleying from one political event to the next, accepting bribes—I mean, gifts—from the candidates, such as free pizza, submarine sandwiches, and attending free Bruce Springsteen concerts.

Yes, I’m going to just love being courted by both sides of the political aisle. Maybe I’ll even get to be on TV, when I ask the candidates the question that’s on every Ohioan’s lips. The elephant-and/or-donkey-in-the-room question, which goes like this:

“Which do you prefer, Akron or Cleveland?”

Sure, it’s all fun and games until Election Day approaches and then, just like that, they force you to pick one. Ever wonder why the undecideds take so long to decide? Because, just like me, they enjoy being courted. That’s why!

So, please don’t make me pick just one. Not just yet, anyway. I mean, can’t we keep the “love affair” going and postpone Election Day another six months? Puh-lease??

For everyone knows, that once it’s over, it’s over. The die is cast, and all that. And, if you ask me, breaking is up is hard to do. When the day comes, when all the votes are tallied, then every Ohioan will become little more than a wallflower. Unwanted and ignored—until 2016, that is. So, until then, we’ll be going back to our former, ordinary lives, back when we weren’t so darn special.

Back when we were just 11,544,951 ordinary Ohioans, minding our own business.

Make that 11,544,950.

For, after the elections, I’ll be packing up my bags and heading back to California. After all, I know where I’m not wanted.

The Race is On

 

Have you heard? It’s election time in America.  A year of campaigning, grandstanding, hand-shaking, politicking, debating, mud-slinging and flag-pin wearing. A year filled with super-PACs, soapboxes, and the good ol’ red, white and blue.

Yes, once again we are voting for who will be our next president. It’s the right of all citizens to fill out a ballot and cast a vote. A right that is supposed to level the playing field, no matter what our path was to citizenship.

Of course, when it comes right down to it, not everyone votes. And that’s their right, I suppose.  Which is ironic, when you consider that there are countries where voting is not allowed, and where I’m pretty sure, many folks would give their eyeteeth for the right and privilege to cast a ballot.

As we have.

Perhaps some of us just don’t feel a strong desire to have a hand in picking the next president. Or senator, governor, or even, mayor. Maybe, we figure, others will do it for us, so that we can go about the business of living our lives and shopping at the mall.

Well, that’s never been the case in my family. From the time I first became aware that I was born in a country that has a president, I learned about our inalienable right to vote.

Back then, my mother wasn’t a citizen yet, but my father had already become one.  As a Latino, he was proud of his U.S. citizenship. For him, this was the land of opportunity, a place that gave him the chance to earn a college degree, and build a better life for his children. He always made sure he voted and, by his actions, he instilled in us the desire to be actively involved in the voting process.

It’s election time in America. What does Race 2012 mean to you?

I remember the political discussions my parents would have. They’d read the newspaper, and watch the news with Walter Cronkite, and then add their own two cents to the day’s issues. Sometimes, my father would yell at the TV, but I think that was mostly during the Watergate hearings.

When my mother became a citizen, she couldn’t wait for her chance to vote, too. The night before Election Day, she’d review the ballot measures, look at the pros and cons of each candidate, and create her “voting list” to take into the voting booth.

When I turned 16, I volunteered for my first presidential campaign. My friends and I were bussed from Long Island, across the state line to New Jersey, and deposited in a neighborhood, where we spent the day going door to door, asking people to get out and vote. Some listened politely; others didn’t give us the time of day.

And that was their right.

For my generation, 18 was a magical year. The year we became adults and were legally allowed to drink. But, when I turned 18, I remember just being excited about finally getting my chance to vote. And, I have voted in every election since. Nowadays, I don’t even go to the polls. I just mail in my ballot. But, I do miss getting the flag sticker that is given out at polling places, the one you can put on your lapel to show that you voted.

In most states, the deadline to register to vote is sometime in October. You can check here to find out the deadline for your state. If you haven’t yet done so, I hope you’ll take the time to register. After all, your vote counts as much as mine does. No matter where we come from, no matter what our race, religion or sex, our votes do matter.

Starting in October, I’m launching a blogging project to coincide with a new PBS documentary by the same name:  Race 2012. It’s about race and the election and what it means for each of us.  If you’re interested and would like to participate, sharing your personal story, photos, art, or editorial cartoons, then drop me a line at monicastangledweb@gmail.com, and I’ll send you information.  To those of you who have already signed on, thank you!

Yep, it’s about time for Race 2012, and together we can make a difference. Please feel free to tweet this and share with other bloggers. Then, I hope you’ll share below, your feelings and memories of voting.