Robert Kirby: Vote — for all the good it will do

Robert Kirby

I voted last week. My ballot came in the mail. My grandson put it on my desk, where I tried to ignore it. After 48 hours, revulsion got the better of me, and I did my civic duty.

The deed is done, and I feel none the better for it. No, I’m not telling you for whom I voted. Shouldn’t be that hard to figure out on your own.

My voting in presidential elections has been spotty, and acrimonious. I wasn’t old enough to vote in 1968, when Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey. I was already suspicious of both candidates because of Vietnam.

Mom made the mistake of telling me that she voted for Nixon in 1968. She made this revelation in 1970, when Nixon signed the constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to 18. I was still in high school.

An argument ensued over Nixon being — in her estimation — a great president. My mistake was in pointing out that Nixon would still be president when I graduated, and I would be eligible for the military draft. There was no way I would vote for an [deleted] who might try to kill me by sending me to Vietnam.

Mom was making dinner when I said it. At 5-foot-1 and 103 pounds, she was about the size of a Viet Cong soldier. And sneaky. She waited until my back was turned and then started hitting me with a wooden cutting board.

It turned out to be a history lesson in the making. Sure, I could have used my physical superiority to win the fight, but “Red China” was in the next room in the form of the Old Man reading the newspaper. So, after several failed peace “talks,” I withdrew.

The first presidential election in which I was legally entitled to vote was 1972. But I don’t remember if I even bothered. That was not a banner year for me. Back then, my feet sometimes made me laugh for no reason, the sky changed colors whenever Led Zeppelin came on the radio, and Susan Dey of “The Partridge Family” was secretly in love with me.

Two years later, Nixon and I were both in places that were not fun. He was being forced out of office, and I was in South America on a church mission.

Although we never met, we shared a special day. On Aug. 8, 1974, Nixon announced that he would resign as president, the same day the worst companion I had was transferred somewhere else.

In 1976 — in the first ballot I remember casting for a president — I voted for Jimmy Carter. I did this not for sound political reasons, but rather because everyone else on the construction crew where I worked was voting for Gerald Ford, who lost. Did I rub it in? You bet. Or I did until I got tired of dodging tools.

Voting for a president soon became more important. I started having thoughts about the future — specifically the future my children would inherit.

I listened to the speeches, read more news, and tried to determine what I should do to make the future for my progeny more secure.

Last week, when I walked out to the mailbox for my 11th casting of a presidential ballot, all I could think of was “fat lot of good it’s done for them.”

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.