Deirdre Reilly: Coloring the presidential candidates

Deirdre Reilly

I sincerely hope that those in the American population who are blatantly ignoring this upcoming presidential campaign will rethink their current priorities – the election is only 15 months away, people! Stop dawdling over your job and paying your bills and look into something really important – following this campaign! Listed below are a few helpful tips for getting the most out of the presidential election race:

Fill out your census form. I know you are saying, “Deirdre, what does that have to do with the national election, and how do you stay looking so young?” I can only answer one of those, so here goes: good genetics. I’ll give the other one a try, though – fill out your census forms because if you don’t, you have to stand in the “line of shame” at your voting station, or “place of votation,” as news pundits like to call it. I “forgot” to fill out my census form, so when I showed up at the voting place for the last votation, I was redirected to a nice older lady with huge book that apparently they put all the losers of my town in. 

“Did you fill out your census, Deirdre?” she asked with a tight smile, and suddenly, I was filled with shame. Why hadn’t I filled out the census? Because “American Idol” or “The Bachelor” was on? Am I really that shallow? That census is important, darn it! How are they going to know how many people live in my town, what our family motto is and stuff like that? (Our family motto is “We are like the lion,” by the way.) A few other non-census-returners were in line with me, and I have to say there is a commonality to us – a little too lackadaisical, a little too slap-dash, a little too “Love the One You’re With” -- I could see it all too plainly.

Then I was handed a very long form and ushered into a kind of half-stall, which frankly would never have prevented a cheater from copying off my ballot if he really wanted to. Where are the curtained stalls? Are they only for candidates now? That’s the best part, that feeling of civic pride as you struggle with the handle that closes you off from your neighbors and sets the process of democracy into motion. All the rows of levers are kind of frightening, but it’s a little more exciting than standing in a stall like a horse who can vote, filling in rows of dots with a lead pencil until you make a neat design. Nothing says “America” like filling in the dots to form a peace sign.

Learn a few “buzz words” and “buzz phrases” to help you feel more comfortable when following the campaigns on television. “Sex scandal,” “illegal donations” and “calculated feminity” will be helpful. Personally, I like to watch the Sunday morning news shows, where they invite important people on to tell us how things are going. I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous; I am always the one squinting off into the distance when someone asks, “Now, who was president after Johnson?” Anything with a “proposition” and a number makes me uncomfortable, and I am not above voting for you if your name sounds “sturdy.” You are more likely to get my vote if your name is John Damsamson than if your name is John Fluff, and Fluff may in fact be the better guy. But how can you know that, with so much reality TV to watch and so little time?

Participate in “Getting to Know the Candidate” activities – be it a Web chat, a rally or even just a coloring book – even if you are just coloring the candidate you like, that shows interest. I tried a Web chat with some informed possible voters by the name of “vegasgal210” and “truckinhomeboy,” and they seemed to think that Hillary and Thompson have a lock on party nominations. They are also looking forward to the upcoming season of “Heroes” and do not think Kirstie Alley seems to have lost that much weight on Jenny Craig. So, remember, participate in the process. 

One last tip – encourage our young people to vote. They feel disenfranchised and seem sleepy and really don’t believe in the process. Remind them of the good old days: candidates stood for something, voting was seen as a privilege, I had a crush on David Cassidy and phones had a long cord on them that tethered you to your kitchen wall. Remind them that there was a time where when you spoke, you were heard – especially if you lived at the Watergate. Hand them a census form and a coloring book, and just pat yourself on the back for the good you have done.  Reality TV is that much sweeter, when watched with a sense of civic accomplishment!

Deirdre Reilly writes her humor column for CNC Inc. in Massachusetts and is the author of “Exhausted Rapunzel -- Tales of Modern Castle Life.” You can get in touch with Deirdre at www.exhaustedrapunzel.com.