By Cassandra Pye
I’m a Republican who’s voted, twice, for our Democrat president. Scratch that. I’m an African American, female, wife and mother-of-four Republican who’s voted twice for our current president. The decision was more difficult than you’d expect. I’m – genuinely, and at my core – conservative, pro-business and believe that government can and should be more efficient (which might result in lower taxes). President Obama and I probably don’t agree on most of the big-ticket issues where I typically side with the GOP. I know my party gets a bad rap for being anti-…well, anti-just-about-everything and it’s the “Just-Say-No” wing of the party that’s given me my share of heartburn, at the least, and tempted me to jump ship on the really bad days. But the truth is I’m really no Democrat. I’m compassionate; I believe we should use tax dollars to support the neediest of our society; I want to preserve and protect the civil rights of all citizens and protect our natural resources. That said, I believe there are interests tied to the Democratic party whose priorities would cancel out my own (see core beliefs). So joining the Blue party is a non-starter for me.
Still, I voted for the president in 2008 and again in 2012. But that’s mostly because I didn’t go to the polls alone. I took my late dad with me. My grandmother was there. Granddaddy, Uncle Frank, Aunt Bea and other aunts and uncles – the village that truly raised me – they were all there, too, even though none of them was alive in either November. It was a really crowded voting booth but not-at-all uncomfortable. While few of them played an active role in the sit-ins or marches of the Civil Rights Era, each and all of them fought their own personal crusades at work, in classrooms, in the segregated South, at lunch counters. And each and all would have given just about anything to have an opportunity to blacken-in an oval for Barack Hussein Obama. I filled in that first oval, in 2008, through the haze of my tears and there is no question that I had plenty of company standing with me. Them…and, my little boys.
I’ve always taken my sons to the voting booth with me – even as babies. As fate would have it, my two eldest sons voted in the 2008 election. We’ve (loudly) challenged the status-quo and debated politics, issues and the competency of our elected leaders around our family table for many years and the truth is it has never mattered to me which party they join (one son is a Decline-to-State – I’m also good with that). What matters most to me is that they value the great privilege and the right they own to exercise their opinion. Voting is a gift. To choose not to be grateful for and exercise that gift is an insult to all those who’ve lost their lives for our democracy, first, and the civil/voting rights of women and people of color, second. Plus, it would be a shame for them to miss out on sharing the voting booth with all their ancestors.
I vote for and with my core values and those who share them. I vote for and with those who are no longer here. I vote for my husband and four sons. The youngest will vote, for the first time, this November. He will travel home from college to be my plus one.
Cassandra is the former deputy chief of staff for then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She is currently a Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at APCO Worldwide and contributor to the company’s blog, APCO Forum. She is also a board member of California Women Lead, a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of women holding – or interested in holding – elected or appointed office in California.