Yesterday was our state’s first day of early voting. For the first time in months, I woke up with a skip in my step, a smile on my lips, and hope. Yes, hope.
I haven’t had the pleasure of a visit from hope in ages. Given that I am a freaking optimistic person by nature, that says a lot. 2020 is kicking my a$$. And, I know I am not the only one.
Our country is hurting at this moment in time. The list of symptoms is long – from a rampant, rising death toll, to a double digit unemployment rate, to unprecedented natural disasters. and a bewildering backward slide in equality rights. We are weary as a nation. Really, we are weary as a race, the human race. When I check in with my non-US friends, it is made clear that our collective suffering is real.
Every day is the same. Every day. If it weren’t for my iPhone and laptop, I might not be able to discern a Tuesday from a Saturday. However, yesterday was exceptional. Yesterday, my newly minted 18 year old son and I braved the world of a pandemic to stand in line and exercise our 19th (the right for women to vote) and 26th (the right to vote at 18) amendment rights.
It’s Different This Time:
“this election season finds me acutely aware of the privilege and responsibility that comes with being a citizen of these United States”
I’ve been voting a long time. Yet, this election season finds me acutely aware of the privilege and responsibility that comes with being a citizen of these United States. I contend that we lose our right to gripe about the status of our circumstances, if we refuse to allocate a chunk of time to vote. Voting is the ONLY way we can make ourselves known and effect actual, real change. Sure, we can protest, send letters to our government officials, and select where and when we spend our monies. And, while I do believe those actions affect change; nothing is as glaringly obvious as an election.
Have I ever skipped an election? Ugh, I am embarrassed to admit I have. When I was younger I didn’t pay much attention to our elected officials, nor what they did while in office. Honestly, I felt like everything was kinda ‘ok’ – for most of my lifetime. Sure, it was painful to come out of graduate school in the midst of the 1992 recession. Yes, my consulting business dried up in 2008. But, overall I never felt completely unsafe; without a net. For whatever reason, to me, it seemed like those whose job was to steer the ship kinda knew what they were doing.
Our Newest Voter:
“I hope he is a harbinger for this fresh generation of adults.”
I am proud to say, my son was excited to exercise his newly acquired right. Let’s just say, this 18 year old got up at 6am to pick me up so we could get to the polling station by 7am. For anyone who has, or has had, a teen, the mere fact that he woke up that early is proof enough of his commitment. I am relieved to see that he takes his privilege and responsibility seriously. I hope he is a harbinger for this fresh generation of adults. Maybe this means that our individual citizens will be paying better attention to those whose job it is to lead our nation. Maybe this symbolizes a sea change in our collective complacency.
What struck me yesterday, as I stood in a socially distanced, mostly masked (yes, there were a couple of individuals who did not comply), line is that nothing I could possibly have on my schedule – nothing – is as crucial to my, my loved ones, and my fellow compatriots wellbeing than voting. I understand that no matter who is elected, there will be individuals who are unhappy with the outcome. But, if EVERYONE casts a ballot. If everyone raises their hand with their choice, then we can move forward knowing we are doing the will of THE PEOPLE.
There is no scenario in which we all win. That’s not possible. Especially today we seem more divisive than ever. However, if you use your right, the power you’ve been given by our Constitution, you’ll know that you participated fully. In my opinion, that’s worthy of a fellow American’s respect, support, and fills me with hope.