Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Story

I've thought a lot about this. About wanting to express myself politically not because I feel self righteous, but because self expression is important. Open dialogue is important. There have been a few bloggers whose writing I've shied away from once they became a bit vocal about a particular opinion and others I've grown more respect for because they shared on such an open platform. That's just the way of it, I guess. Sometimes we alienate people whether we mean to or not.

First and foremost, this is an ARTS AND CRAFTS BLOG, but behind this blog is a human being with strong emotions and a great admiration for other strong minded people around me.

So, here is my story...

I was a very politically aware teenager. I watched the news, read a variety of magazines to stay up to date, was in the Young Democrats Society, went to a few political rallies, was very outspoken in the classroom, and generally hated by my peers. I was in a very conservative, republican, rural, christian environment. I don't consider any of those adjectives to be negative, it was just not a landscape that was accepting of some of my beliefs. Oh yeah, and when I was 16 my mother became the democratic mayor of the town I lived in.

Because of my mother's position, I think that a lot of people tend to think that our family is just a bunch of crazy bleeding heart liberals. The truth is, small town politics is very different. My mom's focus is on our local businesses, the environment surrounding our local lakes, helping to get funding for the parks department to get a new truck, and things that are very far removed from the circus we have on the national level. Yes, I come from a politically involved family, but our goal as a family has always been strictly improving our local community and making things better for a neighbors. My mother is still the mayor of that same small town and maintains no further political ambition than working with her community.

The biggest large scale issue that has ever truly mattered to me to a level where I am willing to stand up and fight is gay rights. Frankly, I find it infuriating that gay rights is even an issue. The person you want to choose as your partner isn't anyone else's business. It is not any way relevant as to how good of a parent you are, how well you will do at your job, and how much good you can do within your community. Gay rights shouldn't even be a question. The reality is someone being gay in no way harms any other individual. Do you think it's wrong? Well, that's unfortunate, but it's still not hurting you.
Halloween when I was 16. Liberal Super Hero- Gay Rights Girl! I know, ridiculous, but I was so proud of it. 
There are many different opinions on how the economy should be fixed.
There are many different opinions on how foreign relations should be handled.
There are many different opinions on health care.
There should only be one opinion on gay rights-- That every human being is entitled to the same rights with their partner regardless of each person's gender.
Homophobic attitudes break my heart and I was so happy to see the changes made for the rights of the LGBT community in yesterday's election.
I spent my teens years carrying a lot of sadness at the hate that I experienced around me towards both friends and strangers for their orientation. People claiming it was a choice, quoting bible passages, saying overtly hateful and aggressive things. It really stung to see and hear when I wasn't even the target. I'm so thankful to slowly see that negativity disappear.

Time went on and I was finally old enough to vote in the 2008 presidential election. To say that I was excited is an understatement. I was fortunate enough in 2007 to be involved in a four person project for one of my political science courses where we had to do thorough research of every presidential candidates background and platform. We also had to give a break down of how the election process works and then deliver all of that information to the entire college. The entire project took most of the semester to put together. It was a lot of work, but an excellent experience to be able to deliver unbiased, factual information about all the candidates regardless of party affiliation to a group of my peers. Most of all, when the political circus kicked up in mid 2008, I already knew the issues and was familiar with the candidates. I felt like I had a head start and could navigate the sea of bullshit from the media a little easier.

I'll just say this now, in 2008 I voted for Barack Obama. I had him picked as my candidate in the summer of 2007 even before the democratic primary. I wanted him from the start and, since then, I do not feel let down one bit. I voted for him again yesterday.

Me and my roommates at a rally in 2008 with the sun glaring in our eyes.

You can't see it in this picture, but this is a photo from 2008 of Joe Biden grabbing my face with both of his ends while saying hello and telling me he liked my smile. This is a photo of one of the most exciting moments in my young adult life. Faded blue hair aside. 

Since the 2008 election, my political awareness has died down a bit. I think I put so much energy and excitement into 2008 that by the time it was over, I was exhausted. Happy, relieved, but totally exhausted. I would catch snippets of the news or catch up with what was going on with this or that, but my focus really diminished. The last 2-3 years, I would consider myself pretty politically inactive. I couldn't even watch most of the debates and DVR'd everything I watched so I could fast forward through the political ads. I knew who I was voting for and I didn't want to hear it. It's like that part of my life was gone and I was just sick of it.

Yesterday something had changed. I woke up early, went to the polls to vote in Massachusetts and was able to cast my ballot on issues that mattered to me greatly. Ari and I will soon be moving back to Florida and yet again signing up to register to vote there, but I was able to spend these last 3 years in a new state to take pride in casting my vote in Massachusetts specific issues as well as national issues. After I left the polls, I went to work and sat by my computer looking at Twitter, CNN.com, Facebook, and everything in-between just biting my nails and waiting for the results. I was suddenly nervous and slightly angry at myself for having zoned so much of it out for so long. When results were announced, I was so relieved and even cried a little. Our president, the man I've respected for over 5 years and trusted with the leadership of my country is sticking around for four more years. Somehow, I feel renewed. I feel a need to pay closer attention. I feel the loss of the fiery activist I was once. I miss my former self and I'm ready to do my research on what's going down in the future of my home.

For those that did not vote to re-elect our president and for those who are unhappy with any of the outcomes of last night, I understand how hard it is to see someone you do not believe in take a leadership position in the state or even the country where you live. You feel your personal ideals will be violated, if they have not been already, and you're worried that decisions will made that you strongly disagree with. As someone who voted for the winning candidate both nationally and for my state, this is still a fear for everyone. Every republican president angers some republicans and every democratic president angers some democrats.

Telling someone to just "get over it" or any form of "haha, you lost" is not appropriate and I find it strange that some people are so quick to adopt a can-we-all-move-on-now? attitude. If you feel strongly about a political issue, you should never get over it. You should fight for it. I voted for Obama, but if you didn't and if you're upset then you have a right to make your beliefs known. My one request to my fellow Americans is that you do your research before fighting for a cause! Know the issue, know the candidate, know the demographic most affected, and don't get that information from just one source!

The biggest question everyone should ask themselves is do you know what is going on with your own hometown? What are the issues influencing your local community? Have you actually met your neighbors? Have your ever been to a city council meeting? These things matter just as much if not more than a presidential race. Sure you can slap a bumper sticker on your car for the presidential nominee that you like, but do you even know the names of your city council members?

I'm not posting this to be offensive or to become a political blog, this is simply my political story. We all have one and I would love to hear yours too. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we are allowed to share our stories without fear of persecution. Share your blog links, your anecdotes, your photos. This is an arts and crafts blog, but this is also my way to reach out to people. So here I am, extending my olive branch to you. All of you.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete