I am a slow learner sometimes. In fact, sometimes I don’t learn, period. Today’s blog is evidence of that. I have found myself embroiled in conversations about politics this week and have ended up crying every time. So what am I doing? Blogging about it. Talk about opening yourself up for more criticism and never learning your lesson. But I write about what effects me deeply and today’s blow got me riled up again.
I am not saying anything new when I say that never before in my lifetime have I ever observed an election causing so much passionate ugliness and divisiveness. Here is my vulnerable confession that I shouldn’t be making “in public” but here goes: I don’t vote.
I am not proud of it, so I don’t advertise it. I am also not ashamed of it either. And I have come to the conclusion after this week that I absolutely deserve to be respected for my decision. I did not come to it lightly or without agonizing. (Those of you that know me, when I have ever done anything in my life without over thinking it and feeling painfully responsible to the point of lunacy?)
When I was in my 20’s and a new voter, I voted by topics I was passionate about. Specifically, the issue of pro-choice and pro-life. And no, I won’t say what side I fall on. That’s not what this blog is about. But eventually, voting that way did not sit well with me. The election that year was between Dukakis and Bush. I determined to make an intelligent vote so I did what I usually did- I poured myself into it with all of my heart and passion.
Every single day I watched the McNeil/Lehrer news hour because they were so educational in their approach of news reporting. They also would have debates regularly of any topic they were covering to provide all sides of an idea. I read the “US News and World Report” from cover to cover. Every single week. It was incredibly time-consuming. The more information I got, the more confused I got. Not only was there abortion to consider, there was education. And warfare. And health. And economics. And environment. And. And. And. And.
And that was just the presidential election. There are numerous names and positions on a voting ballot. I was overwhelmed. I was beyond overwhelmed. In fact, I felt sick. I could not vote with any type of personal integrity whatsoever. I felt like if I couldn’t figure it out, I couldn’t vote. I didn’t like it. I know intelligent people vote. But I couldn’t grasp it.
I made two vows to myself. One, was that I would try to be the best human being I could being every day of my life. That includes being the best American citizen that I was capable of being. The second vow, was that I would not complain about my government or country. If I wasn’t going to vote, I wasn’t going to be a hypocrite.
The truth is, how do I say this ever so nicely? I think there are countless Americans who vote that are not educated or intelligent regarding the issues. They don’t give much thought to politics or go beyond the surface of the issues. Frankly, they have no idea who or what they are actually voting for. Are they a better American than me? I think not. I think absolutely not.
What I found incredulous, is that being a person without almost no political opinions, I found myself beaten up this week. My friends don’t yell or belittle me with angry tones. But two of my dearest friends made it crystal clear to me that they were disappointed in me as a person. Interestingly, one voted for Trump, the other voted for Clinton. There is almost nothing more devastating to me than disappointing people I care about. While I cried my eyes out, I also find myself extremely angry.
IT IS MY RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN TO DECIDE NOT TO VOTE.
And I believe I should be respected for that decision. I have not spent the last 20 years of my life going around telling people who vote that I think they are stupid. Or disappointing. It is a personal choice. The things that were implied about me- that I am lazy, thoughtless, not as intelligent as I was thought to be? How dare anyone say those things about me. Nothing could be further from the truth. I CAN BE EVERY BIT AS INTELLIGENT AS YOU, PERHAPS EVEN MORE SO, BUT ARRIVE AT A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION THAN YOU DO.
I went to a meeting today with some highly educated folks today. Of course the conversation turned to the inauguration. Again, I didn’t learn my lesson. I told them about the upsetting day I had yesterday and how astounded I was that I was defending myself to people who have known and loved me for years. I joked with them that if they were disappointed in me, they needed to be smart enough not to say so. Then I realized that one of two didn’t need to say a word. She made her disgust and her newfound lowering of respect for me quite obvious. I drove home crying again. Angry as hell again.
I have a responsibility to be a lot of things. And I fail at many of them every single day. I am human and make no apologies for that. I try more than the average bear to be the best I can. I can’t possibly be good at every single thing in life, but I dare say I am pretty proud of how I conduct myself in general with regard to the world of humans around me. And may I be bold enough to say that I even do a better job than a lot of people who vote.
This may be my hurt talking, but I also say to all of those that have felt the need to judge me this week, that I am equally or even more disappointed in you. I expect more respect from those who I have “proven” myself to. Those who know me and the evidence with which I live my life might be surprised about my stance on voting, but I see no reason to be disgusted or disappointed with me. I would rather have them say, “Wow, that’s so interesting. I didn’t know that about her, but if she has made a decision, I know her character and she has made it for good reason, regardless of whether I made the same decision for myself or not.”
I’m not perfect. And I’m sure many more of you will be disappointed in me now too. But I hope to God that more of you can respect me and the choices I have made that work best for my life. I’m pretty sure that is how I treat you. Hell, I’m going to contradict myself. I AM proud of my choice. I take pride in making a decision not to do something if I don’t feel like I can do it well enough. My life speaks for itself.