I normally don’t talk about politics. In fact, I have a self-professed hatred of politics. This is because politics have become so divisive and have been splitting apart families and friends. This is my third Presidential election voting, but this election has taught me more than any other.
About a year before my first time voting for President was the first time I really even looked at politics. My friends that I lived with at the time were very into it and I remember talking about the Republican nominees and discussing who would be the best candidate. At the time, it didn’t really resonate with me. Primaries meant nothing to me and I figured I would see who was running once it got closer to the election. I may have been registered to vote at that point, I may not have, I really don’t remember. I do remember closer to the election registering to vote with my campus address so that I didn’t have to fill out an absentee ballot. I remember attending a rally on campus for John McCain. I remember walking up the hills to my voting location and casting my vote (I don’t remember getting a sticker, but I might have). I remember staying up all night with my US map coloring in the red and blue states. I remember President Obama winning. The next election was similar. I wasn’t in college anymore so I voted at home. I didn’t color in a map but I watched the results as they came in. President Obama was re-elected, which wasn’t really a surprise at that point. Many people believed he had unfinished business and lots of other stuff.
This year’s election was very different. I also remember from early on in that first election I voted in, my friends talking about the two-party system and how dangerous it could be. I agreed, but I had no idea how polarizing it would become until this year. The smear ads, the anger and disgust that some people had for the candidates trickled down to each other. I was caught up in something that I shouldn’t have been and it was (in part) my own fault. I had intended to vote in the primaries, but I felt like my vote counted very little. The NJ primaries were so late in the year that the candidates had basically been announced already and it felt so silly to vote for anyone in light of that. This is a mistake I will never make again. Voting in the primaries is important.
I also realized how in taking a side we are essentially dividing our country in half – a self-proclaimed indivisible country. It is terrible what we have become. I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I know that my beliefs are not the beliefs of others. I also know that the Presidential candidates’ beliefs do not perfectly align with those who vote for them. The problem was that there were two options, neither of which looking very apealing (to me personally). I had heard a few months ago about people talking about voting for a third-party candidate. That interested me, but it was so breif a mention that I didn’t really know how to look into it. About a week ago, a friend posted on social media about a third-party candidate. While looking into this and reading about him I realized that this could be the answer I was looking for. Not a “lesser of two evils” sort of thing, not even a “well I don’t like them, so here’s this other guy”, it was a chance for true change. Now, I looked into their viewpoints and not everything aligned with my own beliefs, but for the most part they did. I definitely mentioned earlier that not everyone’s beliefs align completely with their chosen polital party, and I couldn’t say I aligned enough with either main candidate to agree with them. What makes sense to me, where I felt my vote would count the most, was with a third-party candidate. Having multiple parties is extremely important to our government. It’s what makes us a democracy. Having two parties is making us angry with one another. Having more than two parties could change that. The Libertarian party only received about 3% of the vote (as far as I can tell). If they had reached 5% they could have received Federal funding for the next election. This is important. It means change can happen! I’m so tired of hearing my friends and family argue. While this might not completely resolve any arguments (believe me, I know there will still be arguments, I’m looking at you Thanksgiving), it can at least relieve some stress that we would have to be one or the other. Any time you introduce a new option, our perspectives can grow and change. I really wish we could have seen some change moving forward, but I can only hope that the next time, a third-party candidate gets more votes.
Yes, it does matter who you vote for.
Yes, voting in the primaries matter a lot.
Yes, this country needs change.
We have a lot of opinions and love them and we shouldn’t have to keep them to ourselves but we whould respect each other. We deserve respect.