A Single Nail
He was born in 1931 into the most racist nation on earth. He grew up in abject poverty just like every other black child in his very limited universe. He suffered the full spectrum of indignities wrought by those whose worldview had been corrupted by racism and hatred.
But he brought his country's racial segregation to a halt, not by the force of the bullet, but by the irresistible force of the ballot. Under his inspiring leadership, the black majority in South Africa slowly obtained the right to vote in matters concerning the governance of their own affairs. The success which he and his countrymen accomplished was so remarkable that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Desmond Tutu was in almost every regard an ordinary man. His words express humility and a touch of perplexity in his successes that belie the global power overthrown by his determined gentleness.
His faith led him to enter the priesthood, but only after his intended career in medicine was closed to him due to his descent, and after his alternative career as a teacher became untenable. The South African government had rendered essentially all education of the black minority nonexistent.
Yet despite the dark disappointments of the paths that were barred to him, he pressed on without bitterness. He maintained a faith in his fellow men, in the rightness of his cause, and most of all in his Creator that sustained him through the dark hours and years.
For those who have lost sight of the importance of their right to vote, his insistence that ordinary men and women can make a difference in the electoral process is a needed reminder of the effect of even a lone voice. It is worth recalling numerous moments when recent history has been tipped one way or the other by a single vote.
- In 1800, President Jefferson beat Aaron Burr by one vote in the House following an electoral tie.
- In 1890, Idaho joined the ranks of California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, all of which became states by just one vote.
- In 1960, John F. Kennedy's margin of victory over Richard M. Nixon was less than one vote per precinct in the country.
If one vote per precinct can decide a national presidential election, the power of a single vote in an Idaho state election becomes magnified exponentially. And in our state, a single vote within our legislature could be the death sentence for home education.
Idaho has developed a reputation as the most "Republican" state in the country. While this reputation is in many ways well-deserved, it is one that has often resulted in a blurring of distinctions. In a state where such a strong preponderance of the electorate votes Republican, candidates for office are sometimes tempted to declare themselves Republican even though they do not support many of the planks in that party's platform. Consequently, votes by "Republican" legislators that are in direct opposition to the established principles of that party have been cast.
This has resulted in the anomaly of a state where the primary election is usually of greater significance than the general election. The electorate is so distinctly Republican in makeup that many legislative positions are decided in the primary election. The various Republican contenders are whittled down to a single candidate who is either unopposed, or who soundly defeats his Democratic opponent. Consequently, the participation of every citizen in the primary election is as least as important as participation in the general election.
The Idaho Coalition of Home Educators (ICHE) gives every candidate for Idaho's congressional, legislative, and non-judicial state offices the opportunity to express his or her views on home education by participating in a very simple questionnaire. The responses to that questionnaire are posted on the ICHE website. Anyone interested in home education can view the candidates' positions on the subject. The questionnaire is short, to the point, and easy to understand as it has only four questions:
- To what extent, if any, do you support home education?
- Do you support or oppose additional regulation of home education?
- What other requirements, if any, would you favor as a condition of a parent's right to teach his or her children at home?
- State any other comments you wish to make regarding home education.
The result of this candidate survey serves several important functions.
It helps you decide for whom you will vote. And that process of evaluation is also an effective venue for training your children to become involved in influencing the votes of others.
Volunteering time with your preferred candidate to distribute literature in a neighborhood, to post signs, or to make calls not only multiplies your vote, but gives you and your children influence with that candidate once he is in office. Your candidate will be grateful for your help and your family will become the spokespersons on home education issues for that legislator.
An excellent follow up for your children is the Generation Joshua course in government and political involvement offered by Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) at www.generationjoshua.org.
Additionally, a consequence of that survey is to serve as a reminder to the elected candidates of their own words in support of home education. When confronted with a bill that would restrict or regulate our home education freedoms, the posting of the legislators' own words in opposition to such principles can have a persuasive effect. It also allows home educators to remind their legislators that they were supported at least in part as a result of their views on home education. And Idaho legislators are very aware that home educators are some of the most politically active citizens of our state.
Jefferson, Kennedy, Idaho. Each etches an indelible mark in history. That mark for good or for evil was determined by the vote of an individual.
Let us heed the lesson, "for want of a nail the shoe was lost." Our participation in the upcoming primary election is the chance for our vote to be that nail. If our families participate, the shoe will remain firmly in place and our home schooling freedoms will be protected. If we do not participate, we alone bear the responsibility for the "kingdom" that may be lost for ourselves and for our children's children.