I can’t tell you what I voted for on Nov. 6, 2001, when I voted for the first time for something other than prom queen and king or student counsel. The election that year was not a presidential election. I honestly don’t remember much about it. What I do remember is it was raining that day in the South Eastern Tennessee town I was in.
I was a freshman in college. It was just weeks after the September 11th tragedies and the sudden death of my grandmother. To say the least, there was a lot of adjusting.
So the first Tuesday in November was an exciting time for me. I had registered to vote with some help from a campaign on campus. I ventured out from my dorm to the local elementary school tucked away right off campus. I had my voter card and ID, and I voted.
I felt like my voice mattered. I felt like I was a part of society and I was influencing it with my vote. I probably unknowingly voted for something that would keep the poor poorer and the rich richer or defunding schools or something ridiculous. Whatever I voted for, I was proud to have used that right.
I have voted every year since, for the least 16 years, wherever I was at the time, be it Tennessee, Georgia, or Pennsylvania. I may have missed a few primaries or some of the random times of the year I catch people walking around with “I voted” stickers on. I do remember one year in college my communications professor thought it was a good idea to discuss two issues on the bill: the state lottery and alcohol bills. My school was located in a dry county — no liquor in the county. He presented a good enough argument for me to vote in favor of a freer liquor license and against a state lottery.
In the end, I took part in both alcohol and the lottery I had voted against — only when I was of age and not on my Christian campus, of course. (Wink!)
I have taken voting more and more seriously the older I get. I don’t vote down the line for one party only. I do think balance is important, though I do tend to vote more toward the left.
Since the second Obama election and some changes within the Pennsylvania and Philly governments, I have considered voting with a more educated voice than a nostalgic one. I’m certainly not there every time. It is a lot of work to figure out what someone believes and, more importantly, what they will work on and how they will vote.
I read a tweet from a Pennsylvania state official that praised the current president for the DACA plan. In that statement, this official said it is important for Congress to do the job they were voted in to do.
It made me think: How could we put our trust in a Congress we voted in but who often seems to not be working for the people? There is more mess on the table, and there are very few willing to sort through, straighten up, and complete a project.
My educated guess is that it has been like this long before presidents 44 and 45.
I keep going to the polls and trying to make my voice heard, knowing I’m just one in over 303 million. Those odds are worse than the Powerball, which I still participate in on occasion.
I will keep going and continue to educate myself as much as I can, but even in all of that, it does feel like I vote for nostalgic purposes. Knowing the history of voting rights for black people and and women, and voter suppression currently in effect around the country, motivates me to still walk a few blocks every year to push some buttons.
It is important to not grow weary in well doing. Still try. In good faith make an effort. Know that voting is not the only chance our voices are heard. Doing something the first Tuesday of November is just as important as what we do monthly, weekly and daily. If you’re wondering if I’m busy on Tuesday? Yes, I have about twenty minutes already carved out and a few names and issues I know I will vote for. God bless the other random press of the buttons.
I hope they don’t run out of stickers so I can Instagram my selfie. I voted!