This Presidential election has actually upset me this year. I can honestly say I’ve never felt like this before. I’m not upset because of what’s been happening during the campaign; I’m actually upset that I’m not voting. This is something new for me.
I voted once before in my life. I’m pretty sure it was for the second Bush during his first run, but I can’t remember. I do remember going to the elementary school in town and standing in line in the gym, seeing my name on the list, and being in the voting booth. I remember joking with my friends about voting for Mickey Mouse for President. I know I voted for Bush, because my parents are Republicans and I thought I had to be, too. I didn’t know anything about politics, the issues, or the candidates really. But I felt really neat after I voted. It was cool. I was happy. It was a fun experience. And one I haven’t repeated since.
To-day, I’m regretting that decision. Over the years, I’ve become extremely jaded and cynical about voting. I’ve told myself the same things that most Americans have over the last couple of decades: “What’s the point?” “My vote doesn’t even count.” “I can’t stand either of the candidates, so I’m not voting for anyone.” And of course, everyone’s favourite excuse: “I don’t want to be called for Jury Duty.”
Jenn shared my sentiments until this year. She’s never voted before and felt the same way I did. During the last election, we were both pissed with the way the candidates acted. At least I’m sure Jenn was. I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on, so I missed everything that happened with the candidates and the jokes that came from them and their antics. The same goes for the previous election in 2008. Though at that time, we were both watching a bit more closely. We were rooting for Hilary and were disappointed when she was bumped for Barack. My thoughts then (and still to-day) are that they didn’t want a woman for President so badly, that they’d elect a black man first. I know that sounds racist—it’s not. It’s actually sexist. The powers-that-be were so afraid or unwilling to have a woman as president, that they’d take any man they could. I’m proud of Barack Obama for being the first African-American President. I might not agree with some or many of the policies he’s enacted or how he’s handled many of the issues these last eight years, but since I didn’t vote either time, I have no right to complain.
I’m in a similar boat this year. I didn’t vote, so I have no right complain about who wins or what they do for the next four years. I didn’t want to vote; for all of the reasons I listed above. Again, I didn’t really pay much attention to the campaigns. I didn’t really care that much. It was interesting to look at occasionally, I wasn’t going to devote any amount of time or effort to it.
In the beginning, I watched and was somewhat interested. I was surprised when Trump decided to enter the race. He sounded good then. He talked big, and made a lot of promises, but they were believable. He was the candidate who “couldn’t be bought,” because he was using all of his own money to fund his campaign. He wasn’t taking donations from anyone. I was amazed. We both were. I’m sure anyone watching and listening was, too. It was something no one probably heard before. It seemed like he might be a good candidate and there was something neat(?), interesting (?), just something different about him not picking a side in the beginning. We knew he was a good businessman, but that he was also arrogant and egotistical, but it was still interesting to watch. We were curious as to what would happen.
Then things started to go downhill. Trump started spouting ridiculous things and hateful things. His ego an arrogance got even worse after he joined the Republican Party. After that, I just ignored things. I didn’t care about the election, I just wanted it to be over.
A couple of months ago, Jenn started thinking about wanting to vote. She’d never registered (mostly for the same reasons as me), so she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to or not. But the more she thought about it, the more she decided she wanted to. As a woman, it means a lot more to be able to vote than it does for a man. I registered her, but not myself. I still wasn’t interested in voting, but looking back I think on some level I did want to register, too. I remember having a feeling of hesitation and uncertainty about not registering.
Reading a lot of the posts about voting and being privileged to be able to vote over the past week really got me thinking. I don’t like either candidate from the two main parties this year. Neither of them are very good, but with the way things are set up that’s really all we have to choose from. Money, power, and influence buy you air time on television, radio, and the internet, and space in newspapers and magazines, and the internet. Most third-party candidates can’t afford all of that, so they get left out in the media storm that is campaigning. The only way to fix this broken system is to vote. Do research on the issues and the candidates (ALL OF THEM!!), and make an informed decision when you go to the booth on Election Day. Remember, it’s not just voting for the President of the United States of America, you’re also voting for national Senators, Representatives, Congressmen, Congresswomen, and local government.
Being a (dear gods, I can’t believe I’m actually saying it) almost middle-aged white male (it really doesn’t feel like I’m almost 39), you take the right to vote for granted. And with the way the country has been for the last couple of decades, it makes you not want to exercise this right that people have fought and died for over two hundred years. The only way to fix the system is to vote. The election might be rigged, it might not. There’s no way for us to know for certain right now. All we can do is go to our local polling stations and cast our ballots in an attempt to make things a little bit better. Because I’m an “almost middle-aged white male,” I was essentially born with the right to vote for whomever I want in whichever election is being held. I’m taking for granted what some people are still fighting to have the right to do. My apathy because of a broken system is wrong.
I really regret not registering to vote. But I’m going to remedy that tomorrow morning and register on my state’s site. If you haven’t registered to vote and you’re able to, I encourage you to do so tomorrow. Please don’t make the same mistake millions of us have by not voting. It’s the only way we can keep this country a Democracy and (I really hate to quote Trump, but) “Make America Great Again”!
Here are links to help you register and to find out more about voting:
And you can always call 1-866-OUR-VOTE if you have issues or questions about how, where, and when to vote, and what to do if you’re unable to vote.