I'm going to do something a bit unusual and preface this post with a brief statement. I realize that politics are, and have always been, a very polarizing issue in this country. Though I am happy to discuss my personal political beliefs if asked, I don't generally bring them up in certain situations where I don't feel the time or setting is appropriate (say a wedding or a funeral). This post is not being written to encite a debate but merely as a way for me to share a bit about my voting history and experiences in the political process. As a result, you may or may not agree with the votes I've cast and that's fine. There is a time and place for debating but this is not it, k? Thanks! Now, on with the post.
As an American, an American woman, no less (and I mean that in every way), it has been my honor and privilege to vote in every major election since I became a legally registered voter in 1991 at age eighteen. I had grown up in a right-leaning home (lord, help me) and, as a result, registered as an independent because that was as brave as I felt I could be at the time, in spite of my left-leaning political bent from the time I really started to understand, as much as a white, middle class, Long Island teen can, the political process and voting as a whole. Clearly, I didn't understand enough because I was crestfallen to discover at the time of my first "legal to vote" presidential primary that I could NOT take part, having not chosen a major party affiliation. Utterly devastated, I made sure to correct that mistake as quickly as possible, albeit too late to cast that crucial first primary vote (which, I'll admit with a cheeky grin, would have been for California Governor Jerry Brown).
Casting my first presidential vote in 1992 was a BIG moment for me. It didn't accomplish as much as I would have hoped within my family but it did serve to cancel out my parents' votes that year. Actually, we all cancelled each other out, my mother voting for (it pains me to say) Bush Sr. and my father, bless his heart, was quite enamored with another wealthy Texan. Still, that was the first time I felt like a major player in the political process. I was SO proud to cast my vote for the soon-to- be-elected Senator William Jefferson Clinton and subsequently, each and every Democrat to run for president (and many other offices) ever since.
I feel it is not only my right but my DUTY to vote, one I do not undervalue, even when elements of the political process, as they often do, leave me cold. Like many others, I do not feel TIED to party lines, though it just so happens that my li'l liberal self does generally choose to vote along them. The mud slinging, often on both sides, is quite disheartening. But I will always, ALWAYS, play my small part come election day, even when I feel like my one quiet voice might not truly influence the outcome (aside from maybe canceling out someone else's vote which, in actuality, is no small feat). Though there are things I do NOT love about the United States, knowing that I have the right to feel that way and express it on election day is one of the things I, in fact, most love about it. Attending my very first political rally, standing mere feet away from our soon-to-be vice president in 2008, was definitely one of the most exciting political days in my life. Watching our first lady's rousing speech last night at the Democratic National Convention was another. Though your politics may not be mine, I felt stirred to write this post to reveal some insight into what the process, and voting, means to me. It is a beautiful thing to know that every single eligible voter in this country gets to play his or her part in this amazing process. I cannot wait to play mine.