It’s the dead of night (5:45pm) and, for the first time ever, I am headed to my local fire staion to cast my vote in what may end up becoming the most controversial election in our nation’s history.
Yes, you read correctly… in my 26 years on this planet Earth I have never voted in a presidential (or any other) election.
Why? Because I just don’t believe in the American political system. For four years at university I studied political science and it absolutely turned me off. I didn’t vote in 2008 when all the hippies on campus were “Barack-ing the Vote”. I didn’t care. And for the most part, I still don’t.
I’m not here to ramble on about who you should vote for and why. I’m not here to pick sides. I’m not here to start an arguement or namecall. To be fair, I don’t particularly favor either of the two major presidential candidates. I’m not the type of person to aimlessly complain when I damn well know my options and the consequences of my actions. Chances are I will carry along just fine with the next president of the United States of America.
However, this go around is a bit different. I debated with myself all day off the office, which I was not expecting at all. I really did not want to vote. I wanted to stick with my guns. Heck, I got harassed most of the day by my coworkers about not voting. Why? they would ask, you have a privelage, a responsibility. And maybe they are right… But I also have a privelage and a responsibility not to vote. Just as you have the right not to eat meat or to choose your religion.
We know I went and voted. I don’t want to say I caved in, I didn’t buckle under pressure, those words just don’t feel right. It may be fair to say my moral compass unconsciously took me to the firehouse to cast my vote. I had to make a stand.
There was no wait. I walked in and out in less than five minutes (and let me say, it is extremely surprising none of my fellow Americans working the polls gave me any instruction about how the voting process works).
I am 26 years old and have just received my first damned “I Voted” sticker. The same damned stickers which taunted me around my college campus as I wholeheartedly made my decision not to vote. The same damned stickers which made me a fish out of water amongst my peers. I am thankful for the opportunity to vote, thankful for the experience of voting. I cannot say whether or not I will vote again in 2020… only time will tell. As for now, I plan on sticking with my guns… being the change I want to see. Being true to myself. Not hiding behind my government when things go wrong. Not looking for a scapegoat for why my life is not exactly how I want it to be.
Now, please, pardon me while I tune in to The Weather Channel to Escape the Election.
Originally published on November 08, 2016 / Jake Freeland