Feeling the Bern and weighing the vote

If the worst parts about living in a battleground state are the phone calls and television commercials (and they ARE!), the best parts are the personal visits from the candidates themselves.

Yesterday, Molly and her dad waited in line for more than three hours to hear what Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders had to say. The day before, they drove to Madison to check out Republican presidential candidate John Kasich. They’re considering other visits to more candidates as their schedules allow.

The best part about all that father/daughter time is the opportunity to learn about each other while they vet candidates.

Vince will be voting in his ninth presidential election this year, Molly, who doesn’t turn 18 until August, will be voting in her first.

Their refreshing discussions about American politics have temporarily replaced more mundane topics like curfews, what constitutes appropriate attire, and bedroom cleanliness. They read the literature, listen to the interviews, and weigh candidate positions.

Though each has different ideas about what constitutes an ideal candidate, both Molly and Vince enjoy a good issue-oriented debate and they celebrate their right to cast a vote.

It’s easy in this social media obsessed world we live in to rely on outside sources for information on candidates. But, Twitter traction doesn’t necessarily equate with actual relevance to voters’ lives.

That’s why it’s been such a great opportunity for Molly and Vince to step out and hear from the candidates themselves.

I have had the privilege to serve as a witness to recounts in contested elections twice in my life. I can tell you, in those situations, that every single vote matters.

Tuesday will be a big day in Wisconsin. While we’re not going to tell you for whom to cast your vote, we do encourage you to take some time to get to know the candidates.

American politics can be confounding, but the ability to cast a vote based on your personal conviction is a sweet privilege that, when you think about it, is eternally cool, whether it’s your first presidential election or your ninth.

Molly in line
Molly, Vince and well over 3,000 of their closest friends stood in line for hours to see Bernie Sanders.
Bernie rally line
Some of Molly’s friends set up camp at 5 a.m. to get seats for the noon rally.
Bernie rally
Molly and Vince ended up in the second to last row of the third tier.
Kasich rally
They sat closer to John Kasich at his event in Madison the day before.
John Kasich bus
Keep your eyes peeled for the Kasich bus as it rolls through Wisconsin.
George Bush, Vince, Molly, Katherine, Charlie, Vinnie and me
This picture from 2000 cracks us up. Check out two-year old Molly’s near stink eye. She’s always been an independent political thinker. George Bush campaigned heavily in Wisconsin back then. Four years later, John Kerry hosted a rally on the football field right next to our house. Being a battleground state offers plenty of opportunities to meet the candidates.

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