I wasn't originally going to do a post on politics. It's all over the news and I'm not sure I can bring any new insight to it. But I would like to discuss my voting history (but not who or what I voted for), and why this election has been one of the most difficult for me.
I filled in the last circle on my ballot on Friday night, put it in the secrecy envelope, and signed it. It's now ready for me to put into the ballot box tomorrow (my sister is filling hers out today and I'm dropping them both off). We have mail-in voting in Oregon so we don't actually go to a polling place, which is convenient until you set your ballot under a stack of mail and forget where you put it. But that's only happened once and I managed to find it in time to vote!
After I signed it, I was filled with relief. This entire election cycle has been a roller coaster of emotions, and I don't even have cable to see what the media is saying about the Presidential candidates. I have, however, been studying all the platforms of all national and state candidates, their beliefs, and I considered both sides of my state's ballot measures carefully before voting.
I turned eighteen in 2001 so my actual first Presidential election was 2004, but I first cast a vote in the midterm elections in 2002. I know not everyone votes in midterms, but my parents instilled it in my head that voting is a civic duty and one we should take seriously. And I have missed only one election since, as I was struggling with my depression and did not have any inclination to do anything at the time.
See, to me, all eligible Americans should be voting in every election. My parents do, my siblings do, and this one is no different. The reason I am not saying who I voted for is because I believe it should private. It is your vote, not anyone else's. And your friends and family should not directly influence your vote. Of course, the way you were raised and what you believe now will do, and that is often a result of your family and friends' beliefs being similar to yours.
By all means, discuss the candidates and issues with them. With everyone you know, in fact. The more you know, the more likely you are to vote for candidates and measures instead of voting against them. My parents have been discussing politics with my siblings and I since we were children and answered our questions regarding candidates and ballot measures every election. Study and read and be an informed voter. But you are not obligated to share who you voted for or how you voted on state measures.
Voting is a duty, and we must do it. But for those of us who may have family members with differing views, it can be difficult to vote in line with our conscience and not feel as if we are somehow less because we do not vote the same. It can be difficult to even discuss politics during an election cycle, especially this one which has been so contentious.
So what I'm saying now shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but I'll say it again:
Be Informed. Vote. And Keep Living.
"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you." ~Pericles
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran.