Over the past two years you have not heard me once make a comment regarding the 2016 election or the candidates. For this there are several reasons; namely being that I find arguing with people over politics to be a misguided waste of time. You have your beliefs and I have mine, and those are based upon the struggles we feel in the moment and who we think can ease them. Who am I to tell you that you are wrong, regardless of how right I feel I am? My aim in this post is not to sway, belittle, or argue with anyone. I merely would like to share my own political journey, because I am one of the only people I know currently who is completely happy in their choice.
In 2004 I was 17 years old and participated in my first political rally and it profoundly shaped my views. My high school social studies teacher learned that Democratic candidate John Edwards was coming to Eau Claire, WI to speak and offered to take a few of us to witness this momentous occasion. (Note this was small town WI, otherwise I doubt something like this would be allowed, and maybe wouldn’t be now). I leapt at the opportunity. So three of us students piled into my teacher’s car and headed 2 hours away, excitement building as we drove. Don’t ask me how, but somehow my teacher was able to get all 3 of us on stage with Mr. Edwards during the rally. We were certainly energetic and youthful, so we made perfect sign holders. We were given large signs we we waved enthusiastically throughout his speech. I don’t remember a word he said, but I do remember the way I FELT. By the end of the speech, I was not only a Democrat, but I firmly believed that the country NEEDED this man. Buzzing with this energy, John Edwards finished his speech, turned around and shook our hands and autographed our signs. The local TV news crew saw this, and interviewed us for the 10 PM news. In my mind, I was eloquent and insightful regarding the event. We rushed home to catch the news. They replayed me over and over, practically shouting, “That was so cool!” So much for eloquence. My biggest regret was that I was only 17 and couldn’t vote that time, but I vowed the next time to use my voice. John Edwards lost out to John Kerry for Democratic candidate, who lost the presidency to George W. Bush.
I was a 21 year old college student when Barack Obama promised us “change”. Like most college students, we felt ourselves to be liberals, which of course made us Democrats, which made us staunch supporters of Obama. I attended the University of WI – Green Bay, and it was here that I was witness to my second major political rally.
The energy in that room was palpable, like you could reach out and touch it. When Obama walked into the auditorium, it was like a giant thunderclap of applause and cheering. My friends and I were right in front when he entered that room. Ours were some of the first hands he shook. See the girl geeking out under Obama’s armpit – yup, that’s me. Incidentally, this picture made the front page of the Green Bay Press Gazette. He spoke of change for us; he spoke directly to our generation and was the voice of our generation. While he spoke, the energy that was teeming grew exponentially greater. When he was done it was so loud in that room I swore the walls would come tumbling down, which would have been a fitting end. He made another round shaking hands and my group was one of the few that he shook a second time. I remember how his grip was just as strong and steady as the first time, and how he looked directly in your eye as he said, “Thank you.” And he meant it. And we meant it. And we were all hooked. And Obama won.
It was just a month later that I met Jason. He turned my world upside down from day one in more ways than I could count. You see, he was a devout Republican. And I just couldn’t understand it. I remember being embarrassed to share this with my friends. A lot of his friends were the good ol’ boys: older gentlemen who enjoyed a good cigar, a fine whiskey, and a rowdy political chat. Through several heated arguments with Jason and these guys, whom I genuinely respected, I found that my worldview was smaller than I thought. I couldn’t back up my beliefs with facts the way these guys could. I could, however, throw up my hands, get agitated, and refuse to talk to them anymore. It works when you’re a 21 year old girl.
I found my beliefs shifting. I didn’t know if I was a Democrat anymore. But I sure as hell wasn’t a Republican. I was confused. It wasn’t easy anymore to align one way or the other.
In 2012, I was 25 years old, a new mom, and I was still confused. As a mom, I had different priorities than I had the previous election; I cared about education, healthcare, childcare, and safety. Jason, now my husband, continued to challenge my worldview, but at the same time, he unfailingly encouraged me to find my own voice. Jason was the one who taught me to become educated about my political choices, so that I could back them up. With his support, I did my “homework” in 2012. I found that I still fell on both sides of the divide; pretty much equally agreeing and disagreeing with both major parties. So I researched the “third” parties. I had heard the same things we’ve all heard, like: “It’s a waste of your vote, they won’t win anyway,” or “All they care about is legalizing pot”. So I wasn’t 100% convinced going in. Until I did one of those ridiculous Facebook quizzes that is supposed to tell you who you support. I identified 91% with the Libertarian party.
91% in politics is a windfall.
And so I looked into it, and their views were my views! Their beliefs were my beliefs! And I voted Libertarian in 2012. One vote for Gary Johnson.
2016. Hillary vs. Trump. I never had to get very involved because I knew 4 years ago who I would vote for. I am a proud Libertarian. Gary Johnson got my vote again. If you care to know why, the above graphic will tell you all my reasons (there is only one point in fact that I am different on). For lack of a better way of saying it, he speaks my language. I support his ideals, and the ideals of the Libertarian party overall.
For those of you who say that I wasted my vote, the above graphic is for you. I went into the election knowing my guy wouldn’t win the presidency; and truly, that wasn’t even what I was voting for. My vote endorsed the idea of having a REAL third party candidate in the future. I don’t believe that in a country of over 300 million people, we should be reduced to only 2 choices for OUR leader. I voted for the opportunity to increase the odds. I voted because I never want to hear someone say again, “Well, I’m voting for her because she’s the lesser of two evils,” or “I’m voting for him because I don’t like her”. We should be voting because we believe that is the person who can best lead our country! In four years, I will vote Libertarian again. My hope is that the candidate has a fighting chance. If not, my vote will again help to close the gap the next time around.
I am not asking you to vote third party. I didn’t write this until after the election so that it wouldn’t seem like I was forcing my views on you. I am simply urging people to be confident in their choices based upon research. Look inward. And don’t forget to look upward. Find who speaks to you, and support them through thick and thin. Be a Republican. Be a Democrat. Be a Libertarian. Be a Green. Be Independent. Whatever you choose, be PROUD of it and own it.