I was raised in a time where I was taught that discussing for whom I casted my vote was considered rude and ill-mannered. Of course, this was before social media became interwoven into all aspects of my life. Today, alone, every other post on my newsfeed consists of political propaganda or a snarky/petty, “I voted” sticker selfie of how one of my friends is voting for their very superior candidate and whenever their candidate wins, “that’ll show y’all”, (insert Kindergarten-esque-stick-out-tongue emoji).
According to what many friends and family are posting, if their candidate wins, they’re going to win something. Maybe it will be an Honorable Mention ribbon from Trump or perhaps, all of that comment arguing they did back in March during the Stay-At-Home-Order will not be for naught (because if their candidate wins, they win that argument from months ago, which means they live righteously and anyone who disagreed is a huge “loser”). Perhaps Biden is going to send us all a box of cookies if he wins and we cast our votes for him and then we will eat those cookies on Instagram Stories like, “Yeah, in your face, we have some Thin Mints, what do you have, Trumpsters? No cookies, that’s what!”.
I have been told by dear, close friends and my own family members at a recent wedding that if I vote for Biden, I am a baby-killer and I must like to sniff people inappropriately. I’ve seen posts that have said that if I do vote for Trump, I hate everyone except white men and I am economically ignorant.
Here’s the thing, I don’t need to say who I’ll vote for. I’ve NEVER had to say who’s on my ballot because I live in a democracy and for freedom’s sake, that’s the beautiful thing about our country that I’m going to grasp onto tightly, a thing of which I do not want to let go. We are able to vote with our neighbors, we are able to have free will, we have choices (maybe they aren’t the best this year, but this is the hand we are dealt until more people look in the mirror and believe they can make a difference and actually TRY to make a difference instead of spending all of their time on what my father calls, “Waste Book”). We have free will. I repeat, we have free will. Insisting that our friends only vote for who we vote for means we are actually being very shitty friends. Insisting that our family is wrong unless they agree with everything we say is beyond polarizing and it suggests that you actually have control issues. Power and control are traits of dictators and cult-leaders, wouldn’t that be the opposite of how we ought to be treating our family members, our coworkers?
You guys, no one president-elect is going to represent who we are as a country, perfectly. They are not here to save your lives or our lives. They don’t know our names. Yes, a president is very important for the 4 years he (or she, come on, America) is in office, but they are not a Higher Power. So why are we willing to sacrifice our friends (who’ve been there for us in more ways than one) or family members (aren’t we supposed to love our children unconditionally, aren’t these the people we are supposed to love the most?) at the altar of who they voted for? I repeat, why are we willing to destroy our relationships with the people we treasure over a vote? Who we vote for are not who we are. True change starts individually and setting examples for those around us so that (hopefully) goodness spreads like wildfire. True change starts with an open mind, knowing that we can feel the way we feel individually but that our feelings don’t constitute what is good for an entire nation of so many varying cultures.
I will NOT tell you who I’m voting for, for that is my freedom. My personal feelings are that it is completely rude to demand that people tell you who they voted for-otherwise why wouldn’t we just cast votes at an assembly and yell them out while someone walked by tallying it all? We have that privacy in our voting system and for now, I am going to treasure it. I WILL tell you I am going to vote today, proudly, because there were too many women who fought for that democratic right long ago in order for me to have that luxury. If you offer your voting information freely to me, by all means, I am not going to judge you. That is your right. Will I be offering you my voting information? No, I will not. I am an Independent voter and that is that. I really dislike that we are so bipartisan that we are this limited in candidates. Will I be demanding that you tell me for whom you voted? I promise I won’t.
What I will tell you is that I will vote for you.
No, you are not running in the election. However, if you are my friend and family, I vote for you to be in my life. Though I may disagree with your stance in this election, I remember the times we laughed, the times we cried, and how long I have loved you. True love and friendship doesn’t just stop because we don’t see eye to eye or because you don’t share my views. True love and friendship goes on beyond all of that and it doesn’t demand its way. It doesn’t say, “All of that sacrifice and the years of hugs, happiness, and holidays are forgotten today because of who’s on your ballot”. True love and friendship doesn’t dissolve over something so temporary, an election and a presidential term. If it does- (and I would be sad, but again, free will and freedom has its downfalls)- and this is a tough pill to swallow-then it’s safe to admit that we were never truly friends in the first place. True friendship, true love is a choice. Moment by moment, day by day, year by year, it is an active choice. It’s a vote in a never-ending election.
You can vote for whomever you please today and despite how this election turns out, If you are my friend, acquaintance, loved one, I will still vote for YOU. I will still elect you. YOU are still a candidate in my heart.
I refuse to forget our journey-our slumber parties, our Christmases, our memories, the times you held my hand in the hospital or the fact that I looked at you more times than I can count and made the decision that you were always enough, that I’ve consistently campaigned for you. I will not dehumanize you because you don’t agree wholeheartedly with me, I will not devalue your position in my life. I hope for you to do the same and I understand that if you do not, this is your freedom of choice. I hope that others will see that we disagree but still vote for each other because we are friends, because we love each other, and that others follow suit. I hope that this example sets a new tone and breaks barriers and that it shows others that we never have to pigeonhole others into our own limited beliefs to love them. I cannot imagine telling my sons, who I shared months of heartbeats with, that they were “dead to me” because they didn’t check all the boxes that I checked in a temporary election. I imagine I’ll continue to teach them that while voting is important, it is NOT everything, and that any logical American human being knows that leaving all of our hopes, wishes, and aspirations on a candidate is like placing all of the money in our bank accounts on a roulette table and believing we are going to double it. Real change begins with sharing my bank account resources in good measure and investing the rest in things that benefit other people as well as myself. Real change begins with us and how we act.
I act, therefore, I vote and just know…
that today, whenever I cast my vote, I am still casting one for you, too.