Everyday around 4:30 in the afternoon, I walk to the end of my driveway to get the mail. Bills, thank you cards, and college pamphlets are always being delivered. Last week, however, there was something addressed to me – my voter registration card!
I’ve closely followed previous elections even though I couldn’t vote, so this November is very exciting for me. The presidential pick isn’t a difficult choice, though it isn’t what I hoped for. I truly admire some of the candidates running for other positions, so I look forward to supporting them too.
Recently, I saw an Instagram post with an analogy to describe voting in our current situation. I’m not sure who shared it, but it basically said that voting is more similar to riding public transit than getting married. There will never be a perfect candidate who is “the one” for you. Nevertheless, you have to choose the one who is headed in the direction closest to where you want to end up. We might not get exactly where we want, or need, to be, but at least we will be closer. The current situation is not ideal for many, but we have to work with what we’ve been given. Taking tiny steps forward is better than moving backwards.
YOU’RE VOTING FOR WHO?!
I always try to be outspoken about what I believe in, even when it makes family gatherings a little awkward. In the past few weeks, I’ve been told “You aren’t voting for him…he’s going to ruin our country” and things of that nature a few times. The truth is that I am voting for who has values that mirror mine, and that is more important to me than what other people think.
My closest friends and I agree on major political issues, though we may debate details of certain policies. Most of my family members, and the majority of the people I’m surrounded by, are an entirely different story. No matter who I am around, I am not going to avoid discussing politics, or censor what I say. This is the only way to initiate change. Many people my age associate strictly with those who would vote the same way as them. Let’s say I am a democrat who is very passionate about helping others and making things more inclusive. However, I only associate with other democrats. How is that causing any change? It isn’t, because they already agree with me.
In no way am I encouraging you to become best friends with someone completely opposite of you, but I believe listening to others and sharing your opinion is very important. Heated debates happen sometimes, I get that. Instead of getting angry when you disagree with a statement, try to follow these three guidelines that help me: Listen, Understand, and Explain.
If you’re like me, constantly preaching inclusivity and acceptance, then remember that also applies to people you disagree with. Whenever someone is speaking, always try your best to truly listen and be respectful, even if you are crafting a counter-argument to each sentence in your head. (I know, it’s easier said than done)
TRY TO UNDERSTAND
Just try, that’s all you can do. People who support certain politicians or movements will never make sense to me, but I will try my best to hear them out and attempt to see where they are coming from.
Once you’ve heard what the other person thinks, and why they feel that way, it would be beneficial to explain your side of things and why you disagree. In my experience, labeling someone is never helpful. For example, name calling of any kind is likely to make the person become defensive and closed off, and they will probably stop listening to what you are saying. However, if you respect them, and explain your view without a condescending tone, they might change their mind, or at the very least learn something new. Since improvement is the goal, everyone involved needs to be open minded, ready to learn, and willing to change. The best way to achieve this is creating a respectful environment to discuss differences, and move forward together.
It would not be fair for me to discuss politics in my writing without acknowledging my privilege. I understand that the social issues I fight for do not benefit me directly. However, this is because I don’t need to fight for anything – my privilege covers everything automatically. Instead, I use my privilege to stand with, and fight beside others who are less privileged.