When I came first to the US, I was so naive. I remember, meeting new people, and casually asking, “So, how do you guys feel about George Bush?” True enough, I hated the man and everything he stood for, but I was also genuinely curious to get an inside perspective from Americans. I learned a valuable lesson then: Americans would rather put hot pokers in their eyes than talk about politics. This was so different from everything that I had known in my life-at every family event, there were heated debates, and even voices raised, but everybody agreed that it came from a place of care. This wasn’t just the big elections, this was local politics as well as world politics. People cared about politics, because we had seen what happens if you don’t care.
I am on my fourth presidential election in this country, and I still don’t get how people are surprised by elections every four years. I still don’t understand how in between elections, all of a sudden, you’re not interested anymore. I don’t understand why people say they feel “left out” and that nobody cares about them, and then they don’t even know who their representatives, their senators, their governors are. If you want something, you need to make your voice heard. Complaining, without doing something, without speaking up is entitlement. Get involved. Do it for me, because I can’t.
I am sitting on the sidelines, watching with horror. The absolute disintegration of any shred of human decency within political discourse scares me. And while the Kerry-Bush, Obama-McCain, Obama-Romney elections were fought hard on both sides, I always felt safe in the knowledge that this was a working democracy. I may not have agreed with a party, but I never believed in the impending apocalypse. Now I do.
Yes, yes, I am legally in the country, and I am not a person of color, so I am not the target of anti-immigrant rhetoric. Yet.
I have an invisible disability, and I am not terminally ill, so I was not the one openly mocked. But I may be next.
I have not been a victim of sexual abuse, but I know plenty of women who have.
I have insurance and somehow always been financially able to take care of medical bills, but I have seen people being turned away at doctor’s offices because they couldn’t afford their co-pay.
I live here, because I love living here. I have spent formative years here. I have family here, so “just leave if you don’t like it” doesn’t work for me.
I have anxiety, because I feel helpless about what’s happening. I have anxiety, because whatever happens on election day, this is far from over.
So, please go vote. And after the election, if you are upset, then make use of the channels that you have. Write letters to your local newspaper. Write letters to your congressman. Join the ACLU. Sign petitions. Figure out what’s on your local ballot. Read up on issues. Go protest, goddammit. Do something.