I have a confession to make. If you know me in person you might find it to be quite a shocking confession (or maybe you won’t). And you can judge me for it if you want to or consider me selfish or unpatriotic. That’s fine.
I didn’t vote yesterday.
It’s the first time in a long time that I didn’t fill out a ballot in November.
My ballot came. I looked at it and got immediately overwhelmed about all the people and policies I didn’t know. I put it away to think about later.
In the meantime I dealt with doctors appointments and new curve balls (hernias and high risk classifications and what not). I worried about the whens and whys and hows of the surgery coming up to get rid of the ‘thing in my neck.’ I struggled to get my laundry done weekly (I have a mounatin of that sitting behind me as I type, as a matter of fact). I got my kids to and from school which a lot of days seemed like the only real productive thing I was capable of doing. I’ve gone to doctor’s appointments two hours away and adjusted to changes in the game plan and played with Dr. Google to pass time. I’ve played with the girls and read to the girls and blocked out chunks of time where I said, “I may not get anything else done today but right now we’re spending time together.”
I never got the ballot back out. In fact…. It kind of disappeared.
My husband and I don’t ever NOT vote. It just doesn’t happen. Our first really, really big fight back when we were just friends and hadn’t made the mental leap to the ‘more than friends’ category was about whether or not I would register. If I remember right I think I HAD registered or was in the process of doing so but said something off-handed about not doing so and he was so personally offended by the idea of someone not caring enough to vote that he got really angry. We made up when I assured him that I had registered and would vote and that I did understand that it was an a great privelege and a duty to do so.
I wrote editorials about voting for our college newspaper (this despite the fact that I was accused at that time of ‘not having opinions’). When a ‘registration purge’ and administrative quirk of my moving from one side of the campus to the other got my registration voided from the system I realized with a fury what a privelege it was to make my opinions heard.
I believe in the power of raising up my own small voice. I do. I still do. And I believe in the power and the privelege that are ours on election day.
This was midterm election and so… it was important.
But life bore down on me this year in a way that made it difficult to focus outside of our main priorities. Maybe that’s selfish of me. Maybe that shows what a small thinker I am that I don’t have the foresight to take on the bigger picture in the face of my own trials. I was not heroic yesterday.
I have been pruning obligations from my to do list for a while. I didn’t exactly mean to prune this one. But in doing so this is what I found out:
People still got elected yesterday. People are still mad about who got elected and who is running the country. People are still certain that things are going the wrong direction and that as a result of the people who DID vote yesterday we’re all going to heck in a handbasket.
The sun still rose this morning. It’s a gorgeous mid to late autumn day here, in fact. And even for those people who are sure that we/you/they all made the wrong choices yesterday, life will go on pretty much as normal. Our country will go on with resiliencey whether or not I raise my voice, and whether or not people are happy about it. Part of me does feel incredibly cynical and jaded about watching the cycle continue and watching the polarization increase. Part of me feels relieved that though I ‘don’t have the right to complain’ for the next two years or so, I also don’t have to feel the in appropriate guilt that I always do policitically about the choices I make on those ballots.
I won’t not vote again. I do consider it to be a privelege and a duty. My Mom taught me the importance of our political system. My husband taught me what an honor it is to do one’s duty.
But this is one more way that I can see that my own importance is really so very small. This is one more way that I see that the things that we allow to make our blood to boil might be smaller potatoes than we think in the long run. When I’m staring down a tumor and surgeries and a baby coming in the midst of it all things that normally seem earth-shattering to me just suddenly don’t.
Maybe whether or not Washington State has an income tax really is ultimately more important than whether or not this tumor gets cut out of my neck and whether or not this baby gets here safely or not. I don’t know. Maybe I’m really just ragingly selfish.
But even if THAT is the case, those choices have been made, the ads and phone calls will finally cease and my focus, I feel, has stayed on exactly the things that it needed to be on this week.
Once the dust settles around here, I’ll make it a point to pay better attention, and tune in to the political pros and cons of the people for whom I can vote next time around. THAT ballot won’t get lost in the shuffle. I’ll continue to affirm the importance of making one’s opinion heard and being part of the political process.
But I refuse to feel bad about not participating in this election in the middle of my rapidly spinning world. It’s just guilt I don’t need.