After weeks of waiting, I finally received my ballot in the mail. This was my first time voting in the general election and was an opportunity I couldn’t imagine passing up. Perhaps it was because I paid more attention, or maybe because the presence of the media was stronger than the past, but it felt like the pressure and desire to vote was more prevalent now than before.
But rather than taking this as a bad thing, I made the decision to not take the freedom and right lightly and to avoid making my choice as one I reached in a matter of seconds. Regardless of political party, I viewed the outcome as extremely important and that it would impact everyone nationwide. As there are many values and ideas at stake, I wanted to examine them and compare among the candidates to make a better, well-informed decision. I was especially careful to do so because I wanted to consolidate my own political stances based on things I valued myself and found on my own, without the pressure of others, especially my family and friends, with whom I discuss issues from time to time.
Reaching my decision on which candidate to vote for wasn’t as simple as picking who I liked better — this wasn’t like choosing where to eat, which depended on what I felt like eating that day. I wanted to make a decision based on thorough research and understanding, examining equally the opposing viewpoints to see why some people would choose one side over the other and to gauge how high on my list of priorities each issue stood.
Many voters, of whom I typically saw were older generations, are quick to point out that the support the younger voters give to certain candidates or social issues were out of ignorance, and that we would change our minds once we got older. Though our viewpoints may possibly change, I didn’t want to allow this to discourage me.
Through deeper research and discussion, I quickly learned how everything affects every sector of the country. As each decision shapes our future ones, I found that it was important to start in the right here and now.
I have also realized that not everyone is on the same page as I am. Too many of my friends and acquaintances have admitted that they didn’t know who they were voting for — or were just voting for the same candidate as their parents — because they didn’t feel as if they knew enough and simply didn’t care enough to make up for it.
I feel that this is the real ignorance that we should be warning others against, as I see that the lack of care about issues that affect us all transfers to other parts of our lives and also that this mentality carries along with us. I quite understand that politics can be exhausting and complicated, and it is an area people like to avoid to make their lives simpler.
As for me, I’d like to be a part of what moves toward change and progression, no matter the outcome. I hope to teach my future children to become knowledgeable in current issues and international matters, something I feel I lack from doing too often, to take their own stance that was formulated well and through effort.
In all honesty, some parts of me think: It’s only four years, how much can one administration do? But other parts think: It’s four whole years; millions, if not billions, of lives can and will change. So I aim to continue moving forward in my life with that mindset: We may see the results of our simple decisions later, and rather than being stressed over that, I take it as a reminder to be proactive in what I do, whether it is finding what kinds of leaders I support, or values and ideas I’d like to follow.
My ballot later becomes just a part of statistics. Yet for me, the contents of the paper come from years of learning about the world to be able to exercise this freedom now, four years in the future, and then again and again.