Speak Up: Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport

I am one of those parents you see at the polls with their kid on election day. I have often taken my daughter with me to vote. I have brought her to visit a Congressman’s office. I have included her in my run for the Board of Education. I have let her read my letters to the editor. I have had her with me at a Freeholder’s meeting as we protested the closure of her pool.

It may seem silly to some people, to involve a 9 year old in events like this. How much, really, can she grasp of what’s going on? Someone said to me, “None of it will probably make a difference, so why bother?”

Why bother?

I bother so my daughter sees me participate in the most valuable of rights in America–the right to vote.

I bother so my daughter sees that our duty as citizens does not end in the voting booth, but requires us to hold those elected accountable, and remind them they serve us, we the people.

I bother so my daughter sees an average, every day woman running for office.

I bother so that my daughter sees how to use the freedom of the press to use her freedom of speech.

I bother so my daughter sees her mother standing up and speaking out in front of those in power.

I bother so that when her turn comes, she will remember. And she will speak out. And she will stand up. And she will teach her children to do the same.

I bother because democracy is not a spectator sport. I cannot ask others to fight for what I value while I sit back in silence.

So, yes, maybe my single voice won’t make a difference. But, sometimes, my voice, and your voice, and that person’s voice, and that one’s…sometimes all of our voices together, can make that difference.

And that is a wonderful lesson in democracy to teach my daughter.


  1. Kerry, you are everything an engaged citizen should be. Plus you’re an excellent writer!!!
    Thank you for speaking up. It inspires me to do my part in the ways that I can.

  2. Barbara Blonsky says

    My mother was very active in organizations and was recognized as a leader. Watching her gave me strength, showed me how every action can make a difference, and helped me know that a focused woman could accomplish anything. You just keep doing what you are doing! Your daughter will always remember. She is learning the most important lessons of Democracy….nothing changes until we get involved!

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