I knew this would be a day to which I’d reflect in a “where were you when…” kind of way. As I walked down the crunchy brown leaf-lined street on this quintessential fall election day, it was unseasonably warm, and the sun cranked up the saturation on the remaining autumnal leaves. Either way, today would be emotional, historic, and memorable.
My 14-year-old son asked if I was voting and I told him, “of course,” and his immediate retaliation rhetoric was to tell me my vote won’t count. I don’t want to believe that; what if everyone catches this mentality like a virus?
I voted not just because it’s my right or my civic duty. I voted because my parents came to New York City as refugees from the former Soviet Union in 1979 so we can become citizens of a country, which is a beacon for democracy. I voted because I choose to live in America and ride on her roads, go to her schools, collect employment and Medicaid when I needed it. I voted because these are the rules of the sandbox and I want to play nicely in it.
I voted because I am a woman who at one point wouldn’t be allowed to vote because of my gender; as a Jew, who at (many) points was persecuted for her religion, and as a refugee who had to leave her country in search of the opportunity to vocalize without fear.
There is no perfect candidate just like there is no perfect human, but choosing not to vote is dipping into a downward spiral of negating democracy. What makes America great (today) is the principle that we can differ in opinion and all still co-exist. Our country not only allows us to vocally disrespect our government leaders, it supports us as we protest in public, as long as we do it safely. We don’t have to worry about being arrested. In Russia, if you even contemplate negative thoughts of Putin, you’ll get shot in the back at Red Square. [In fact, this article will probably red flag me.]
As a writer, my voice is my identity. I cope with life through my words. My parents delivered me upon this promised land and encouraged me to sow my roots here, to spread my wings, and to chirp as loudly as I needed in order to be heard.
Neither one of the candidates accurately represents me; I am a hippie at heart and sadly Willie Nelson isn’t on the ticket. I may not like their personalities or their laugh or the color of their skin tone. I may not agree with the way they handle their sexual relations or their marriages. I can play devil’s advocate for every candidate possible but I’m no more interested in that role than in engaging in political debates with my closest friends and family.
I voted for the candidate who can speak intelligently, with empathy and compassion for fellow humans. I voted for someone who will defend my rights, as a woman, and a human, to treat my body how I see fit. I voted for someone who understands Roe v. Wade is a scientific conversation, not a religious one, and this is non-negotiable to me. I voted for someone I’d want representing me as an American, the next President of the United States.
I voted because I wanted to know I tried, I participated, I counted.