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Exercising my right as an American citizen

October 30, 2012

I have a confession to make. It’s something I have never told anyone. I’m not exactly proud of it, you see. Let’s go back to the year 2000 and the library of Nuckols Farm Elementary School. Election Day. You may remember this was the election that featured Bush / Cheney and Gore / Lieberman. They set up nice voting booths for us at the library, so I went in and looked at my paper ballot with only the presidential decision on it. I remembered that Lieberman was Jewish, so I figured a Jewish vice president would be cool. And so, I voted for Gore in my elementary school election in 2000. Purely because of his vice president.

Now, the reason I’m not super happy about that isn’t because of whom I voted for but because of why. No one should base a voting decision on vice president. One should base a voting decision on values and what the candidate will do for the individual and the greater good.

That being said, today I had a bit of a political crisis. I’ve known who I plan to vote for for many months now, but I have put off filling in my absentee ballot. I think it’s because I’m not really passionate about either candidate. I would love to be a full-fledged supporter of someone and be willing to go out and campaign for someone who I believe will improve our country. I would love to be fully content and confident in my decision, but I guess one can never really know what a candidate will do for the nation until he or she is elected.

So today I spent two hours researching the candidates and comparing Obama and Romney, Republicans and Democrats, and liberals and conservatives. I found the party my values align most with (though of course, neither party will ever fully represent all my beliefs). I tried to figure out how each man would try to make my life better, but I still feel like I’m voting between two men who don’t necessarily care about my interests.

Maybe all of this makes me selfish, but it’s whatever. At least I’m engaged in this election. At least I’m educating myself. At least I’m informed. At least I’m excited. At least I’m voting.

It took our country almost 150 years since its conception to give women the right to vote. I use the word “give” loosely, considering women risked their lives fighting for something many of them didn’t even live to see. Voting is something that has always been instilled in me, but I became passionate about the issue of women’s suffrage when I learned about people like Alice Paul junior year of high school. She is inspiring to me, which is why I remember her name. It hasn’t even been a century since women earned the right to vote. When I mark my ballot, I am going to think about all those women who didn’t have the opportunity to do what so many people take for granted. I guess that’s why I had a bit of a political crisis today. I want to make those women proud.

And another thing. This week, I have been working on a story for Jayhawks Decide that will be published Friday about KU students who are not citizens and can’t vote because they are a demographic no one pays attention to because they can’t mark a ballot. Even though they’ve lived here for a while and the issues affect them too, they don’t have a say in the voting process because they’re not citizens.

In doing this story, I’ve realized voting is just that much more important. I would never consider not voting, but it made me realize further that there really is no excuse not to. Why would you not want to have say in what happens in your life?

So I’m sending in my absentee ballot tomorrow, content with my decision and proud that I exercised my right to vote in an effort to improve my life and the world. And when I’m sitting at the Dole Institute one week from tonight watching the returns come in,  I’m going to be so excited. I’m already excited, and I don’t know how I can translate that into this post. The election is close, and the result will impact our nation. I freaking love watching breaking news – history being made right before my eyes. Presidential elections are pivotal, and they only happen every four years. They determine the course of the nation. And unlike in 2000 when I only voted in an elementary school voting booth, this time, I’m voting for real. And that is awesome.

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From → Sophomore

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