This week was Election Day. While I write this before the election, it won’t see press until after, hence the past tense. Whatever will be will already have been decided. May the best man win, I pray. And please don’t tell me the “best person,” to exclude gender specification. It’s understood, OK? Political correctness is exhausting. But politics it is.

If you want to know the power of your vote, ask someone who has ever tied or lost by one. While I don’t predict any of our local elections being that close this year, it is imperative that we all get out there, right? I remember my father discussing with my mother for whom she would vote. If she wanted to vote for the other guy, my father would scoff and say, well there’s no use either of us voting then if we cancel each other out. Voting, however, is secret, so I don’t know for sure if she always followed suit or not, but always vote they both did.

I remember feeling like hot snot when I was old enough finally to vote, and I haven’t missed an election yet. Has my vote ever made a difference? I have never voted in an election that went down to one vote, so some might argue that it has not. Howeverdotcom, you never know the worth of your vote until after they’re all tallied. You cast your vote with faith that it matters and will make a difference, don’t ya? The whole system is faith-based if ya think about it. We believe and have faith our votes are honestly counted equally, but who really knows?

It’s interesting to me the things we get fired up about. I have a dear friend at work. He is as against current federal administration as I am for. We have yet to meet in the middle, but do you know why he’s still my friend? Because I respect him. I respect him for being a hard worker and a funny guy and for always being my friend. He shows up. To my 40th surprise party, to my father’s funeral…he was there for both. Even though neither was convenient for him. He showed up. I will not forget these things. His political views are what they are, as are mine, but he is my friend. He does get fired up when we dare discuss politics, but my friend he is, still.

Agreeing to disagree is still something I am coaxing him with, as he is still hell-bent on changing my views. He has statistics and facts to counter everything I say, but I smile and let him talk. Maybe much of what I believe is just that: belief. Like faith. I tell him everything he says I can counter if he will let me Google, but I can’t get a word in. He needs to be a lobbyist. He’s that good. He’s quick and articulate. I admire that as well.

Why do we get fired up about where we come from? And is this more exclusive to the South or rural areas? I don’t know, as the South and rural areas are all I know. However, I will share what you have probably seen on Facebook or heard about, which is the USA Today contest thing on the best stadium.

Somehow, out of our whole country, it has come down to Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield, West Virginia, and some place in Texas that I blindly don’t care about. It’s a funny thing, ethnocentrism. Like my enemy’s enemy is my friend. I might cuss my brother, but if you do, then I will fight you. If we were comparing Bland and Bluefield, I would fight for Bland, but if the contest is between Bluefield and Texas, then yes, I am on the side of Bluefield.

It’s a funny thing. If I’m not mistaken, the other stadium is in El Paso, certainly a bigger place than Bluefield. But so far, Bluefield has completely eclipsed El Paso in the online votes. Why is this? I have to guess that it’s a small town Southern thing about being so dang proud about where you’re from. #hillbillyvoodoo

I am speaking now from ignorance; I will allow that up front. I know nothing except that which I have grown up with, here in Bland. But from what I can see from my finite vantage point here in my little hole in a place called Nobusiness, folks from bigger cities are so “diverse” that they don’t have as strong a sense of where they are from. When ya just moved there, you don’t have ties to the land the way we do here, when our great-great grandparents settled here, by God. This land and this place are a part of our identity. There’s also the factor of WHO settled these mountains. Scots-Irish, who are prone to fight. That toughness was the only thing that allowed us to stay in these harsh areas with the unforgiving winters. These hard people are from whom we come around here, and of them I am proud.

So yes, the power of a vote. I did cast my vote online for Mitchell Stadium. I know it don’t make a lick of difference in anything if it wins, but vote I did. Have you ever thought about other things we vote on?

Even as a kid in school, I realized the power of a vote, and the hardship of being a leader. When I was a senior in high school, and class president, we were deciding what our class shirts were to look like; there was nearly a tie vote. Guess what happened? We didn’t end up having a shirt at all. I didn’t, at the time, have the will to make people mad. And nothing was accomplished. It’s a small, silly analogy, perhaps, but someone at some point has to stand up as a leader and do something, even if it’s wrong. A willingness to make people mad is inherent in a leader. If you just want to be popular, you won’t get far. Now I see that.

Have you ever heard people argue about the weather? “Oh, I hope it snows a big snow!” some people will say. And others get downright mad at the opinion. It’s a good thing the weather isn’t decided by vote, or we would have riots fairly often.

We often introduce our children to voting at an early age. Should we eat at McDonald’s or Wendy’s, boys? Show of hands? And early on the power of the vote is learned. Our voices do make a difference. Everything we say has power. There is power in our words. We better make sure they’re good, huh? We’re accountable for them all. Kinda makes me want to shut up. Just sayin’.

A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at meaganmorehead123@gmail.com.

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