The first time I ever voted in a presidential election was for Barack Obama in 2008. Back then I was optimistic. Knowing I was part of electing the first black president was inspiring. There was a high. We were proud. But more than his blackness, Obama brought the fresh energy the country needed to see in a leader.
Eight years later, I look around at where we are and on a personal level, that optimism has depleted tremendously.
This election season has been one for the books in the worse way possible. As someone who traveled abroad for the early part of the year, receiving questions about the political climate of America was embarrassing.
From the overt racism, the sexism, the Islamaphobia, the police brutality, all our legends dropping like flies, the weight of this year was too heavy to carry. I think I can speak for many when I say that I can’t wait to run, jump and milly rock my way into 2017 for a fresh start.
But we still have two months to go. Why do I feel like it’s going to be one long mess? We have a presidential candidate that is already spewing rhetoric that the election is rigged. What’s going to happen if he loses?
We may have the first woman president in U.S. history. Clinton (as problematic as many critics feel she is) has made a case for an inclusive America that promises to continue where Obama is leaving off. Meanwhile her opponent (he whose name I refuse to speak ever ever again) blatantly represents everything wrong with America and all the things we’ve tried to gloss over and pretend doesn’t exist. Yet here it is in our faces. It has bubbled up to the surface. We can no longer hide from our long lists of social problems.
With one candidate who wants to carry us into the future (we’ll see what that means pretty soon) and another one serving those who want to hold us back, it’s beginning to feel a lot like a modern-day Civil War.
I’m getting invites for election watch night parties. I don’t know about anyone else, but unless you have to work, why would you want to be anywhere but home on election night? I’m only getting purge vibes. Sorry.
Tomorrow I will go out to vote. My main reasons for always going has a lot more to do with using the privilege that someone before me fought so hard for. Although African-American men were given the right to vote in 1870 and later Black women in 1920, Black people were still disenfranchised and couldn’t go to the polls without facing racist loopholes until the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965.
But even after I visit the polls, I will carry on with my plans to do the work to serve others around me with my gifts and support others doing the work as well.
My final thought is that it seems things will get worse before they get better. My generation has to make the best of this meek economy. I’m watching gentrification take over the neighborhoods I once loved. Many of us will go the route of innovation and entrepreneurship as a way to lay down a new foundation.
We will need to rid ourselves of the toxic bigotry we have upheld for too long. Obama faced so much racism while in office. I already know Clinton will face loads of sexism and I’m preparing for all that it will trigger in the months to come.
At some point this will all come crashing down and Michelle Obama will run for president in 2020 and save us all. I know you see it coming too.
On a serious note, no one really knows what’s going to happen next. But as we look back on this past election season, ANYTHING is possible. Let’s work so that it’s now for the better.
(Photo Credit: “vote” by vige is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/desaturated from original)
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