Webster's defines politics as "the science and art of government" and a politician as "one versed or experienced in the science of government."
For our democratic form of government, you can't have one without the other. A crucial national, state, and local election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Many people will be in the voting booth that day eager to be heard.
Unfortunately, as has usually been the case, many others will not. Recently, I tried to engage a few of my relatives, neighbors, and casual acquaintances in a discussion about their choices in the upcoming election. More than half of them refused. They gave me one-sentence responses and turned the conversation to football, the weather, or another subject.
Now, that is their prerogative. But with so much riding on this election, which ultimately may directly affect them, why is this so?
Is it because these people believe that politics, like religion, should never be discussed in public? Is it because they are bored with the nominees and/or the issues? Or, are they disenchanted with the political process and feel that their one vote will be inconsequential?
Well, dear non-voter, let me fill you in on a bit of history. Did you know that in 1645, one vote cost Oliver Cromwell control of England? And that in 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed? Also, Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams each was elected president by one vote in the Electoral College, Marcus Morton was elected governor of Massachusetts by one vote in 1939, Texas, California, Oregon, and Washington each was admitted to statehood by one vote, President Andrew Johnson avoided impeachment in 1868 by one vote, and Adolph Hitler became leader of the Nazi party by one vote. And of course, Alex Berger failed in his bid to receive the New York State Senatorial nomination simply because not ONE party agreed to endorse him. You get the idea.
I was brought up with politics and politicians. My mother was a county committeewoman from Manhattan's Lower East Side. I would, on many occasions, accompany her on neighborhood rounds as she obtained signatures for various political petitions. She would renew old acquaintances with potential voters and encouraged them to vote in the upcoming election. This was known as "getting out the vote." My mother was quite good at it.
The neighbors were delighted to see my mother (a poor, self-taught immigrant from Austria) and they always welcomed her warmly. Almost every night (except Friday night, the beginning of the Sabbath), visitors flocked to our small, four-room apartment to discuss issues with her which, invariably, would last throughout the night.
None of this interfered with Mom's roles as a wife and as mother to eight young children. The "town-hall" discussions never bothered the other occupants of the apartment - namely my father (who would sleep after working 16 to 18 hours on three jobs), my seven siblings a boarder, a cat, and me.
Politics and politicians were an important pout of her life. She literally ate, drank, and slept politics, and our family was proud of her strong involvement
I remember, when I was quite young and wide-eyed, seeing many o the famous politicians of the day in her presence. Mayors Robert Wagner and Vincent Impelliteri; Governors Herbert Lehman and Adlai Stevenson; Democratic Party Leader Carmine DeSapio, and other dignitaries made it a point to greet my mother at many political and other functions.
World figures also knew her because of her extensive letter writing. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, for one, sent a representative to our tenement house specifically to invite Mom and family to Ethiopia, with all expenses paid. My mother never took the emperor up on his offer. This saddened me because, at that time, I had never left my neighborhood and I would have loved breaking away and seeing another country.
Regrettably, Mom was never an orderly filer. When she died, it was a near impossible task to codify the copies of the hundreds of letters she had sent, and received, from the leaders of the world, which were nonchalantly stuffed into drawers, cabinets, and shoe boxes. If we only had another chance.
Thanks to Mom, I make it a point to vote in every primary and general election. If I am away on that special Tuesday, I will send in an absentee ballot. Than I know that I have fulfilled the obligation of every American citizen.
This past year, I had a good time writing three light-hearted columns about my unsuccessful run against Hillary and Rick, However, this time, I turn serious. This election is a big one and everyone should take part in it.
It's been said that people deserve the good, or bad, politicians representing them. By not being informed, or just not voting make up the two ingredients necessary to place and keep unqualified elected officials in office. To change this pattern, it is necessary that everyone read up on the issues, discuss them, and be a fully informed voter on Election Day. Then vote wisely!
It's also been said that democracy is a most imperfect form of government, but all the others are much worse.
So, please, VOTE!
How was that Mom?
Reach Columnist Alex Berger by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org