There’s a political debate happening tonight which I am not watching. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. I’m studying Spanish, and I’m thinking about a paper I need to write about the value of studying language and literature in college. And it’s not that I don’t care what they’re saying in that debate, but yeah, it’s sort of that. I don’t care, because I don’t think it’ll be any different than what they’ve said before. Aren’t I supposed to care, though?
Didn’t a bunch of people three hundred years ago write and discuss and, ultimately, fight for the right for every American man to have a voice in electing his country’s leaders? And later, some other brave people spoke up and gained for me the right to vote as a woman? And then brave, caring people fought for the right for black people to vote, too? And finally for every citizen over 18. And this year, because of centuries worth of people discussing and debating and caring, I get to vote this November.
How dare I not care?
How audacious is this apathy. I’ve been raised to love my country, love its heritage, love its flag and its anthem and its pledge. I am thankful for freedom, freedom which, because I’ve never experienced anything else, I take for granted.
I want to do the right thing. What on earth is the right thing?
Do I vote for someone I don’t agree with completely (maybe not much at all) in order to keep at bay someone I disagree with vehemently? Is it okay to vote for the lesser of two ridiculous, frustrating evils?
No, I hear. Yes, I hear. Only if you’re sure one is truly less evil than the other, I hear.
I don’t think I’m ever going to find someone I agree with on all points. I think one person would likely change much of the very structure of how the government works; would likely undo (or try to undo) much of what those people centuries ago were building upon.
Can I just not vote? I’m realizing this privilege—this worth-dying-for right that I’ve inherited—is more of a duty for an adult than it is a fun new thing for a bewildered college student who’s mainly just trying to pass her classes and graduate on time. It’s a responsibility, and it’s one I didn’t really ask for.
It’d be so much easier to leave it to other people to decide. And then I could complain about what other people decided. But I wouldn’t have gotten to think for myself—I wouldn’t have had to make a decision and stick with it.
You might be thinking “good grief, Jo. It’s just one vote—it’s not a big deal it doesn’t matter anyway.” It matters, I think. And I want to take it seriously, if I can. So I should probably be watching that political debate, but I’m not. And I’m sure as heck not on social media right now. And I’m not interested in angry debates on Facebook.
Here’s what I’d be interested in. A Real-Life Conversation about what might be the best thing to do, come November. It might be dangerous—if we’re not careful and courteous and kind, we might stop being friends for a bit, til we grow up and realize that four years will pass like nothing and the most that might have happened is a change of jobs, a couple more friends married, a couple more nieces and nephews in the world.
Or maybe terrible things can happen in four years. Terrible, awful, unbelievably corrupt things can happen in a surprisingly short amount of time. That seems possible.
I just feel like being convinced of something. So I’m offering, I guess, to listen (in person only!) if you want to explain to someone why what you decide to do this November is the right thing. And if you want to hear it, I’ll explain what I am gradually coming to terms about doing, and yeah. Conversation in real life, yo.
Or you can just read this and be disgusted by my apathy. Or you can just read this.