I still remember the presidential election of 2000. I was in the fourth grade learning about politics for the first time. Since most kids typically vote for the candidate their families vote for, I was rooting for George Bush. I come from a mostly Republican family. My best friend at the time, Megan, came from a mostly Democrat family, and her vote was for Al Gore. When Bush won, I jumped up and down for joy while Megan kicked her feet around saying, “Gosh darn it!” and we still ate lunch together as if nothing ever happened.
The same exact thing happened in 2004 with George Bush and John Kerry. I still managed to keep my Democrat friends close even after George Bush won. So, I ask America, what in the world happened to us? Unless I just grew up, opened my eyes, and realized what was actually going on.
The 2008 election was just a small taste for what we were in for: hatred. My best friend at the time, Katherine, was voting Obama and she let me know every day what a terrible mistake it would be if I rooted for McCain. I must admit, that election was during my senior year of high school and I honestly didn’t pay attention as much as others did because I had college applications and SAT’s on the brain. But, my family was voting for McCain. However, that didn’t alter Katherine’s hateful and sarcastic comments one bit.
The 2012 election, I was paying attention to the best of my ability. I voted Romney. And from a sorta-kinda-Republican/Independent point of view, this is what happened:
My college campus was jam packed with Obama buses to bring students to the nearest town hall to vote. Thousands of students were shoving Obama signs in my face, yelling at me to vote. Most of my friends spent the day screaming at the television about how much Romney sucked, and nobody was voting for him (which is ridiculous since obviously people were voting for him). I actually had people who I considered close friends express their hatred for Republicans, which made me uncomfortable to no end.
After Obama won, I wasn’t upset. I went to bed and slept like a baby. However, a former co-worker on Facebook figured out that I didn’t vote for Obama, and it MUST have been because he’s black right? Which he then felt the need to express all over the Facebook page of my employer at the time, asking them how they could hire a racist? That racist was apparently me, and he wrote my name out in all caps. Luckily, my boss was able to delete the comment immediately and block the person. But that didn’t stop the cooks from making racist jokes every time I walked by. I spent most of my shift in the bathroom crying.
Ever since that particular election, I’ve been too afraid to voice my own opinion in a country where we claim we can go ahead and do that. Between the Facebook posts bashing not just Republicans but Democrats too, to the unwanted political conversations where all I do is fold my hands and stare at the floor, it’s become too much. I understand this election has turned us into a mockery for other countries. A sort of lesson on “What Not To Do”. But I am here to say that whoever my friends and family vote for, I’m not going to berate them for their choices, and neither should the rest of you.
I haven’t asked one single person who they are voting for because it’s simply none of my business. I was raised to “never bring up politics at the dinner table” and I maintain that even more now. We have to get a grip and remember that not every Republican is so far right and not every Democrat is so far left. For every person you make fun of, whether they are voting Clinton or Trump, you are insulting someone you know or their families. It baffles me that I feel the need to write this to adults. I’ve been wanting to say these words since 2008 and I don’t want to be afraid anymore. It’s not fair.
So, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or what have you, I wish you all a safe Election Day. Don’t forget to stash those nips in your pocket for later.