Love the Vote
I’m not going to lie; I was struggling with a post topic for today. I’m tired, it’s been a hard few days, my screwed-back-together broken hand is hurting, and I’m suffering from a Halloween candy hangover. This is not the ideal combination for deep thought. So, being the professional that I am, last night I turned to my husband and whined, “What should I write about?” (No, he doesn’t receive combat pay for living with me. But he probably should.)
“Write about the election,” he suggested. I gave him A Look. You know the one—it suggests that I would rather chew off my own leg than discuss politics. He shook his head slightly. “Not the election itself. Write about voting. Write about the first time you voted!”
And I said no. Because… I can’t remember the first time I voted. We worked through the history to figure out that the first presidential election where I would’ve been of legal voting age was 1992. Then we determined that I would’ve still been in college, so if I’d voted in that election, I would’ve either had to get an absentee ballot or traveled back to my hometown on election day to cast my vote. I can’t remember doing either; I think there’s a decent chance that I didn’t vote at all.
I’m reluctant to admit this. I’m ashamed of it, frankly. There’s a possibility that I did vote in that election in 1992 and just can’t remember how I managed it, yes. I don’t remember, but it’s possible. But it’s also true that there have been other elections in which I most definitely didn’t vote at all. It wasn’t until my 30s that I bothered to vote in local elections.
Now, I can tell you why I didn’t vote, but it’s a terrible excuse. As a young woman, I despised everything about politics, and so I avoided most of it as best I could. Then—knowing I was often fuzzy on the issues and candidates—I assumed I should abstain from voting because I didn’t have the necessary information to make informed choices. Now that I’m older, I still despise politics, but I understand that I still have a responsibility to participate in the democratic process (and, furthermore, that if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain).
Of course, now I believe that every American who CAN vote, SHOULD vote. But more than that, this particular election (how could it not?) has reminded me that my responsibility to exercise this particular civil right is perhaps more important because I am a woman in a still-patriarchal society. It is my fervent hope that by the time my daughter is old enough to vote, the notion of a political party backing candidates who think rape is imaginary will be unthinkable. To me, it feels like there has never been a more important election cycle for the women of this country.
Yesterday my son asked me if there was “just one thing” I could go back in time and change in my life, what would it be? At first I told him that I’m a firm believer in the past bringing us to the present, so probably I wouldn’t change anything. He pressed, so I said I would go back three weeks and not break my hand. (Hey, it’s true, and it made him laugh.) But later, I realized that was the wrong answer.
If I could go back in time and change one thing in my life, it would be that I would’ve believed from the age of 18 that it’s not just a right, but a privilege to participate in the democratic process. And then I would’ve voted in every single election (after researching the candidates and issues). I am mortified to think of all the times I could’ve voted but just didn’t.
Remember when everyone was writing letters to their younger selves, all full of “you go girl” messages about how that body you were afraid to put into a bikini was actually totally smokin’, and that dreamy boy was nothing but trouble? If I could write a letter to my younger self, I’d tell her to wear the bikini, and I’d tell her that part of loving and respecting herself as a person, as a woman, is voting in every election. It’s an act of patriotism, but it’s also an act of self-love. Getting educated, and then getting out to vote, is a confirmation that your voice matters.
Agree? Disagree? Please tell me you voted.
(Get More Mir Here)