The first time I voted was for the 1972 presidential election. Fresh out of college (‘71) and equipped with lessons gained from Lloyd Omdahl’s UND political science classes, I was ready to help change the world, or at least participate.
The late 60’s and early 70’s were troubling times to say the least, with the Vietnam Conflict (first-ever televised war), the anti-war movement, friends being drafted by a lottery, the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, My Lai massacre, Kent State shootings, the Pentagon Papers, and Watergate, to name just a few. All of these events framed my political persuasion.
Enter presidential candidate George McGovern and Sargent Shriver on the Democratic ticket. McGovern was a WWII hero, an idealist; Shriver, former Director of the Peace Corps. Both had many admirable credentials, but most importantly they were a couple of really decent guys who promised to end the war and bring the troops home, something Nixon had promised but never delivered. They were my candidates.
I left for Europe with friends that August, but not before arranging to have absentee ballots sent to us c/o a youth hostel in Spain. We actually had no idea where we’d be but needed an address, so Spain it was! When October rolled around, we found ourselves In Corfu, Greece. We knew we had to catch a ferry to Italy and hustle back to Spain… IF, indeed, we wanted to cast our votes. And we most certainly did!
Sadly, my candidate lost. Nixon won by a landslide. But I never regretted our efforts. The point is this: If you don’t participate, then please don’t bother to complain. Voting is both a privilege and a responsibility. I didn’t take it lightly then, nor do I now. Learn about the candidates; study the issues. And If you haven’t already done so, please remember to vote!
(A final note: If you’re new to voting and are unfamiliar or undecided with any candidates or issue, please leave that option blank. You may vote on as many or as few options as you choose).
Merrie (Satrom) Rolland