I Decided to Vote This Year, But I Still Hate Politics

On election day in 2012, my mother called me to ask if I had placed my vote. I told her no, she asked why. I proceeded to explain that I didn’t plan on voting because I didn’t want to. She tried convincing me that I should vote and that I still had time. She offered to pick me up and take me to the polls. I didn’t care. She couldn’t convince me. Our call ended. About ten minutes later I got a call from my dad, “Britney, why aren’t you going to vote?” I listened to my dad and my bonus-mom explain why I should vote- history stuff. They couldn’t convince me either. I can be stubborn, I admit. I didn’t vote in that election and I didn’t care about the results.

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As long as I have been of voting age, I voted, until Obama’s second term. I was completely fed up with politics and wanted no part in any of it. I can’t stand the fact that candidates spend millions of dollars to shame their opponents and boost themselves. I hate it. Politics are extremely divisive and I strongly believe in the quote, “united we stand, divided we fall”. I had made up in my mind that there is no way that people can be Christian and claim either side because they’re both horrible representations of Christ. I figured, “Whatever happens happens. God will protect my family regardless”.

So… I still feel that way, er, kind of, I’m still completely fed up with politics and the waste of millions of dollars spent on campaigning- it’s so stupid, however, while attending our local Martin Luther King, Jr. celebratory program my mind regarding not voting was changed.

The first person that spoke about voting at the program was a city councilman. He spoke a for a short time encouraging everyone to vote and I was thinking something along the lines of, “yeah whatever sir. I won’t waste my time.”

The next speaker recounted instances where one vote made big impact. I admit I was skeptical of her sources so I did my own research and was able to find a few instances in which one vote did, in fact, make a difference. For example, in 1839 Marcus “Landslide” Morton was elected governor of Massachusetts by one vote, twice. In 1941, the active-service section of the Selective Serve Act of 1940 was extended as the result of one vote. In 1961 the Afro-Shirazi Party in Zanzibar won the general elections by one seat. “after the after the seat of Chake-Chake on Pemba Island won by a single vote” (Snopes).

Towards the end of the event, prior to our mayor, there was an opera performance by Robert McNichols, Jr. who shared his vocals and pianist Robert Pherigo. They performed “Frederick Douglass Aria Scene from John Brown”. The lyrics were based off the narrative of the abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass. What I recall most from the performance is the part where Mr. McNichols sang, “if a slave mother shall teach her child to read, she may be hanged by the neck… They refuse to give us work, then ask why we steal.”

The performance hit an emotional chord with me. I was reminded of the suffering and struggles of my Black ancestors and how they were hunted, beat, murdered, bought, and sold for profit. They had no voice and no choice. Listening to the lyrics of that song and my own thoughts about the experiences of Blacks during slavery up to the Jim Crow era was the key that opened my heart to change.

“THIS N***ER VOTED”

Adding further persuasion, our mayor, Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James gave a personal account of how his current title and position are the result of voting and why we should vote:

“I’m a person that I can tell you the issue of voting is something that I have experienced on a different way. I’ve been the object of votes or the object of non-votes. Oftentimes, I’ll have people call me, I know a lot of people who have answers to every problem and they call frequently to offer them. I will ask them sometimes, ‘did you vote?’ And they will say, ‘no’. And I will say, ‘then we have nothing much to talk about.’ If you didn’t have enough time and energy to get up off the couch, drive three blocks to your voting place and vote then I’m not sure that I can trust the answer that you are trying to give me to a complicated question because its pretty simple to vote. It doesn’t take much energy, it doesn’t take much effort, it just takes some desire to participate with our family, with our friends, and our community in order to try to do everything that we can to make this place better. It’s not a matter of waiting until something burns to complain about it, it’s a matter about going out there and making sure that the reasons that people burn are ameliorated and we’re there helping to ameliorate them; to get rid of those problems, to work together to solve problems.”

Then he gave a major warning,

“And while Mrs. Russell was talking about the legislature and its bills, let me just pass on a word to you: if you do not pay attention to this legislature you will be in serious trouble…”

Yesterday was the primary election and man, I’m glad that’s over. However, the research continues! There’s still more to learn about these candidates.

In closing, do I really believe we’ll be in serious trouble if we don’t pay attention to the legislature or if we don’t vote? I don’t know. But, that night, I decided that I’m not only voting for who I believe are the best candidates locally, statewide, and nationally, I’m also voting in place of my ancestors who never had the opportunity or chance to make their voice count. I’m voting because if I don’t, I feel as if I would be belittling the efforts of all those who fought so long and hard to get myself and all other minorities to this point, where we are able to have a voice through our vote without prejudice and violence.

On November 8th this year and every four years thereafter, I’m taking my behind to the polls to vote.

Yeah politics suck, but it’s the American way. Whether my vote truly counts in this day and age, I don’t know, but I would rather be optimistic, assuming that it does count, and take my chances with the possibility that my vote, and yours, may lead to positive change within our local communities and country. More importantly, I’m setting an example for my children. It’s a right (15th Amendment to be exact) and freedom that I choose to exercise and it’s important to me that they exercise their right to vote as well.

“VOTING IS PEOPLE POWER.”

Thanks for reading!

Do you plan to vote later this year? Why or why not?

Article originally posted on Britney Dearest.