Poll Dancing

I haven’t written much about the election, and that’s on purpose. For months and months it seems like every other word I’ve seen is “Romney” or “Obama.” I didn’t want to add to the noise or the fatigue. I’m certainly feeling it. Like that little girl who cries because she’s tired of hearing about Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney.

This one.

But I do think that today, it’s important to take part in the workings of American democracy, in honor of everyone who has suffered in order to help us gain that ability. That power.

So here’s why I’m voting this year.

As a proud member of the LGBT community, I’m voting to express my conviction that dedicated partners of any sex should be able to get married.

As a woman, I remember that other women picketed, were thrown in jail, were starved, were raped, and were killed, all in order to obtain the right to vote alongside their male counterparts.

As a woman, I want to make it clear that I will fight to keep Roe v. Wade from being overturned, and to keep our country from moving backward. Your religious beliefs should not affect the options, health, future, and even lives–as in, ability to live–of other people. Abortion will still happen, and happen as frequently if not more frequently, if made illegal*. It will just end in more deaths. The answer you should be looking to is contraception, and when you attack that as well and demand abstinence-only sexual education, I don’t know whether to laugh at your naivete or cry at your willful ignorance.

As a citizen, no matter how disillusioned I get, I know that to stay quiet is not the way to make things better.

As a traveler, I know that there are things about this country that are truly great, and I want to keep them and be a part of improving them.

As a student, I remember the lesson that the personal is political, and that belief has tangible value. Money is symbols on paper until people give it value, and one person deciding not to vote  because they think that one more vote won’t make a difference may not change the results of an election, but a thousand people who all think the same could change everything.

As a person, I think it’s incredibly valuable to take one day every few years to confirm that I am a part of a community in a neighborhood in a city in a county in a state in a nation with other people who also take the time out of their lives to do what I am doing. Whether I agree or disagree, whether or not I think the electoral college is unfair, whether or not my vote is going to have sway in the state in which I’m voting, I want to stand up and be counted. I want to say, “Me too!” when other people say they have done this thing that means, “I care.” Because I’ve discovered that I care about this country, and that I care about this world, and I’m not going to let myself or anyone else forget that.

No one candidate is perfect. The system certainly is far from ideal. No matter what, there will be disappointments, and there will (hopefully) be triumphs. Personally, I’m hoping that things go in a direction that means that more people can do more things regardless of any accident of birth. To me, this is what defines progress.

I used to think I didn’t care about politics. What was actually true is that I didn’t realize what politics is, which is a bunch of people caring about things and trying to change the ways that they and others live. There are lies and manipulations and there is question-dodging and there is bribery and there are what seem to be flat-out denials of plain fact, but all of that comes from people interacting as crazy, selfish, short-sighted, wonderful, loving human beings. I’m going to throw my own far-from-perfect self in there to see if I can help get us closer to transparency, straightforwardness, and decency, because those are all part of being human too. At least, they can be.

Come out to the polling place with me. Get the sticker, mark the sheet, shake someone’s hand, and whether you stay up all night watching the results or go right to bed after work to wake up in a changed world, we’ll be connected. A little bit. Like strangers smiling at each other from two passing trains.

And remember: If you don’t vote, you’re not allowed to complain for the next four years.

*See articles like this one. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/18/abortion-rates-higher-countries-illegal-study_n_1215045.html

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