I’ve spent the last few years changing directions politically.
I have always been a pretty heavy left leaner, always identifying myself as a liberal even though I rarely personally identified with the Democrats, the de facto liberal party. In my circle of friends I have played the role of the tree hugging, people hugging, justice-for-all, let-love-rule radical hippie. While I have voted for members of both parties (and third party candidates) in smaller elections, I have never voted for a Republican in national elections. I railed against Dubya and what I saw as his fascist regime. And I cried tears of joy when Obama was elected, thinking that hope and change may have, indeed, come.
Then he started appointing his cabinet and my descent into disillusionment began. That’s when I started to really examine my own beliefs about this country and politics and history. Though I have always considered myself a student of history, I am embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until then that I truly began to think critically about history and all that falls under that umbrella term. The more I read and the more I learned, the more disillusioned I became. I had bought into hope and change and all I was seeing was a lot of the same old thing.
You know, here comes the new boss, same as the old boss.
We’ve been hoodwinked, I concluded. We’ve been sold a lie to keep the rich rich, to keep the oil flowing, to keep the bombs exploding. We, the masses, have been kept complacent by sparkly distractions, manipulation and disinformation.
Feeling angry and hopeless, I began proclaiming that I was done with it, that I would no longer participate in the puppet show. I decided I would no longer vote. What was the point?
This isn’t to say that I decided to just curl myself into the corner and passively wait for the coming apocalypse. I chose to, instead, turn all of that energy inward. If my vote isn’t going to change the system, as I had naively believed, then I would change what I could from where I stood as one of the masses. I would move the mountain one pebble at a time by living a life of love and kindness and humanity and justice.
I can’t change the world, but I can change my world. I can make my little corner a better place. I can be the change that I want to see.
While born of pessimism and anger initially, this political shift I experienced has had a profoundly positive effect on my life. I do live a life dedicated to love and seeking to positively affect all around me and I am a happier person because of it. I believe that I am making the world a better place now.
This morning I walked my daughters into their third full day of school. I watched them through the window and couldn’t help but think of all that lay ahead of them. They have embarked upon their own journey into the world and each day that passes from now on they will be more their own than they will be mine. It has been a pretty significant week around here.
Their future has some dark clouds on the horizon, as do all of ours. As Americans and as human beings, we have some very difficult choices to make in the very near future. My understanding of that fact, I think, is at the root of my disillusionment with our leaders. The status quo is not sustainable, but who is going to lead us in a very necessary new direction?
Watching my girls through the window this morning I realized something else, though. Something I hadn’t thought about in regards to all of this political bullshit and all of these big-picture ideas. Something that made me see the two choices with which we are being presented in this election in a whole different light.
Before too long, my little girls will be women.
In so many ways, the choices we have for the next president of our country are no choice at all. Regardless of which side wins, the wars will continue, the bankers will profit, the corporations will grow and the people will be left behind. That’s the big picture stuff and that isn’t going to change, at least not because of any election or particular politician.
But there is at least one big difference that I can see. One side has made it very clear that a vote for them is a vote against women. That side is standing proudly and proclaiming women’s bodies are not entirely their own and something to be legislated against. They find logic in a debate over degrees of violence against women and just how much is tolerable. They find acceptable slanderous and hateful speech against half of humanity.
Theirs is not a world to which I would choose to subject my daughters. Their platform is not one that includes equality, liberty and security for the women of this country. Period.
I have lost faith in our leaders – all of them – when it comes to fighting for justice and freedom for all Americans and all members of the human race. I will continue to try to be the change that I seek rather than hold out hope that such change will come from above. A peaceful and sustainable future can only come from the foundation, from each and every one of us. It will not come from the ruling classes who have proven time and time again that their only desire is to maintain their power and wealth.
But when November comes and all of this pageantry and propaganda dies down and this country goes to the polls, I will go, too. And I will vote.
This year I’m going to vote for my daughters.