This past November, I went to the polls for the very first time in my life. Neither my mom nor dad were there to hold my hand through the process or show me how to vote or tell me who to vote for.
The power was in my hands alone.
The beauty of Election Day for me was that I could walk to my polling precinct. It was less than 10 minutes on foot from my house. I had planned to go first thing in the morning but I was still undecided on who to vote for both nationally ad state-wide. This probably sounds like this was the first time I’ve ever voted but it wasn’t. I voted absentee for Ohio in 2008. I can say with great pride (and one day tell my children) that I never voted for Barack Obama. Neither in 2008 nor in 2012. I don’t mean that to come off as arrogant. It’s how I feel and what I am proud of personally. And besides, if later on down the road my generation gets blamed for keeping him in office for as long as we did, I can say that I didn’t vote him in.
|Holding up my voter registration paper, sensitive information side down of course!|
Another thing that I am proud of (which you might be proud of as well) is how much extra time, effort and energy I put into understanding politics and the issues at hand that we as a nation face today. The 2008 election was just the beginning of journey with politics. In my opinion, being informed is half the battle when deciding on who to elect as the leader of your city, state or nation. It may seem boring to read articles upon articles, watch the news, listen to talk radio, etc and feel like you are being force-fed one side of the spectrum constantly. You also may not feel like you even have the time for all of that. Once you find an issue that you can become passionate about or when one begins to affect you on a more personal level, things will change. And if you take a risk and start listening to NPR regularly, you will find that not everyone is biased. (Sorry for the plug. ha) The point is this: your eyes will become opened and you will forever view your world differently.
Or you can choose to not be involved in politics and not voice your opinion. I can’t force you to like something you have no interest in. I will agree that the argumentative side of politics is pointless. Petty arguing does not solve problems or save money. There is no sense in arguing and angering yourself til you’re blue in the face because the other person does not see things from your point of view. That won’t help shape the course of our nation’s future in a positive way. Letting your voice be heard on the internet, at a city hall meeting, in the office, at home, school or in a restaurant or cafe might be a few places to start. There are so many ways to connect and share content, stories, pictures, videos you name it with so many people around the globe it’s not even funny. With that being said, be careful how you express your thoughts and the tone of voice you use. We will never be united as a nation through politics as long as it continues to be run the way it is today. The last four years and this past election has been proof of that. What will unite us a bit of compromise from both sides. To meet in the middle on many issues that we can no longer put off a decision instead of throwing grown-up temper tantrums, stating that it’s ‘our way or the highway.’
I take words and thoughts very seriously because those very things
become my actions. You usually do not just involuntarily fling yourself
into your car or click on a bunch of “Buy Now” buttons on various
e-commerce sites just for fun. Or maybe you live life differently than I
do. Most people will consider how much money they have in their bank
account or how much gas they have in their car first before they make a
purchase or make an extra stop somewhere. At least I like to think that most people are rational decision makers
when it comes to money. . .but let’s not forget the state of the economy
today. The same goes with words. It’s better to think before you speak
in order to avoid putting your foot in your mouth later. Politics is not
worth losing your friends and family over. At least, I am finding this
statement to be true as I have navigated my way through my new-found
passion for political, economical and social issues.
Election Day. After I checked out all the websites I had wanted to read,
completed things for my job and worked on a proposal for a project I
was hoping to land, I set out around 1:15pm. to go vote. Just a few
short minutes later, I got to my polling location and was taken aback by
one astounding detail: the parking lot was practically empty. I had
heard stories all day about how my friends around Jacksonville stood in
line for at least an hour. Not here – my polling location was dead! And
when you walked inside you could hear a pin drop. However, that wasn’t the
funniest part of the experience
|Step right up and vote!|
I got checked in, received my ballot and started filling it out in one of the booths. Not even a few minutes had passed when I heard an older Hispanic couple speaking Spanish and English to one another as they walked up the table behind me to check in and receive their ballots. Here’s the funny thing (well, the first part): the lady did not have a driver’s license anymore or a passport to confirm her ID in order to be able to vote. At first she didn’t. The ladies manning the registration table did help her find the proper ID and gave her a ballot. The reason why she didn’t have a driver’s license anymore because she was blind in one eye! As soon as an obstacle nearly prevented this lady from receiving her ballot though, this was her first reaction: “Well, I don’t need to vote!” All of the ladies around her immediately exclaimed, “Oh no! You CAN vote!” Heck, even I almost turned around and echoed those same words! If you don’t vote you cheat yourself out of even giving yourself the smallest chance to change our country’s political makeup today and potentially for years to come. I’m glad they found a way for her to vote even though a couple minutes later she and her husband were collaborating on who to vote for. Well, really her husband was just reading names to her because she had trouble seeing them. This couldn’t have been a more eventful voting day. Little did I know that for me it had only just begun.
I went to a friend’s house across the river to watch the results coverage and indulge in a new Southern favorite: chicken and waffles. I think politics just sound better when there’s fried chicken involved. haha Thank goodness the food and good conversations and debates that night helped soften the blow from the final election results. I had mixed feeling to say the least but something else I learned inside that house shocked me even more. About 75% of the friends I met with that night supported Obama. I guess I need to pay more attention to their posts, statuses and conversations from now on. Oh, wait not a lot of them vocalized their political opinions this election year.
What kept me up until 4AM the next morning though?
To be continued….