By Lisa Whaley

“Never discuss religion or politics” is a saying that has been around since 1840, and perhaps it is one my grandparents should have followed around election time.

As different in some ways as night and day, Brownlow and Rosie Morgan, better known as Mommy and Poppy to my mom and her 12 brothers and sisters, were quite a couple. I have been told that Poppy was slender, serious and meticulous. (He died the when I  was just a few years old.)  Mommy was short, a bit more rounded, playful and funny.

More importantly, however, Mommy was a Republican.

Poppy was a Democrat.

Each election season, according to my Aunt Judy, the battle would begin — its culmination the inevitable packing up of important belongings into pillow cases as the entire your Morgan troop, led by their mamma. would set off down the road to stay with a friend.

It was like clockwork, my aunt would share with a grin, settling down after election day, only to flare up again four years later.

Yet through their 50-plus years of marriage, Brownlow and Rosie remained devoted to each other, sharing a connection that was never doubted by any of their children.

They just didn’t agree on politics.

And that was all right — except, of course, when the polls were open.

I think there might be a lesson hidden in that story for all of us as we begin the inevitable march toward election day.

Right now in Unicoi County the signs are all there.  Placards are up, and candidates have been busy knocking on doors.

With the Unicoi County primary set for May 1 and early voting scheduled to begin April 11, there is no time to waste in preparing for the 2018 election season. And definitely, no time for squabbling.

Of course, it is election time and a bit of squabbling is inevitable. It’s almost as much of a time-honored tradition as our wonderful right to vote and be heard.

We just have to keep it in perspective.

Our right to vote provides us with a power that we often forget, and it should never be squandered.

By exercising that right, we are helping to share the direction of our nation.

This power is weakened without wisdom, however, so I encourage you to take the time to research each issue and each candidate before you vote. The Erwin Record is here to help with that and will be providing you with news stories, special sections and more as you navigate through the 2018 election season.

Take the time to dig a little deeper into any issue especially important to you. It’s easy to get caught up in inspiring rhetoric and it’s always exciting to feel you are in the midst of a cause. Just make sure the facts — from both sides — help bolster your position. Weigh your information, occasionally challenge long-held assumptions and constantly confirm the reliability of your sources.

And don’t forget to talk with all those friends, neighbors and associates who may not see things exactly as you do. The strength of our community lies not only in our right to vote as to its direction, but also in our ability to freely discuss our issues with each other — always recognizing that while we may not always agree, we are always family.

Just like Mommy and Poppy.