The election is soon over. THANK HEAVENS. I’m sure it will be some time before the votes are in and the winner is finalized.
I’ve had a tough fall keeping my mouth shut. So many times I’ve wanted to say something, but know the people I want to say it to are deaf to my words. I’m sure many of you can relate no matter who you voted for or what party you stand behind.
One of the things that were said was “I was wondering why people are voting (democrat/republican) because pretty much they do because they always did”.
Gotta admit this had me laughing …and then crying. Let me explain…
How I have voted over the years has changed according to my life experiences…I think many of you can relate.
As a young college student living in a college town, I was all about politics. I took Intro of Political Science and was all on fire with wanting to know all I could about the political science world and even had aspirations that maybe one day, I might be interested in holding an office…even a smaller office like being on the school board.
I campaigned for my candidates. I went door to door. Yep, I was all about it. At the time, I was a political gal all the way….straight ticket.
Then life changed…
I found myself pregnant. I found myself married, in a new town and chasing after little ones. I didn’t have time to care about politics…and remember my two television situation, when we had two television stacked on top of each other, one with sound and one with picture….and only one channel?? There was no internet then. It would have been hard to research anything, even if I would have had the time.
I still voted though. I did the best I could with it all. By this time…I was voting differently and it wasn’t a straight ticket. Why? Because life experience started to catch up with me.
About that time Kramer was forced to file bankruptcy and lost the ability to farm so we started to care more about farm policies, embargos, crop insurance, and interest rates.
Then there was getting married. Kramer had his political views, I had mine. As time went on and we talked more, some of our views began to mesh. Some didn’t. We’d joke if we voted for other people, we’d be canceling our votes. Admittedly, sometimes we canceled each other’s votes, sometimes we didn’t.
When we were young we didn’t care what candidates said about retirement and social security. We couldn’t see past the age and stage we were in.
We didn’t think about segregation. It wasn’t in front of us.
We didn’t think about police brutality. We didn’t hear about it on the news.
As we moved, as our family grew, we started caring about things we previously never cared about. Our children were getting towards college age. We wanted a candidate to be more supportive of cost-effective college.
As we had family trying to scrap together money to pay for adoption after years of fighting infertility, we started to care more about policies to help families adopt children.
As we had great-nieces and nephews die from SIDS we thought more about research to help prevent it.
As our children’s friends made the tough choice to come out and reveal their sexuality, I started to think, what would I do if that had been my child? How would I have reacted? I started to think about gay marriage.
As we watched our parents in the nursing home struggling with the end of life choices, we started to care about social security and medicare. We could see that our turn was next.
I saw my kids become teachers and made friends with teachers, suddenly I saw there were two sides the education…the side of the teachers working with the children and the side of children who need to learn.
I became a childcare provider and listened as parents lamented about how hard it was to find affordable childcare.
Now I see my kids trying to juggle college loans, house payments, and childcare, I care more than ever that there are affordable options for kids going to college. I don’t want my grandchildren to struggle the same way.
I listen to family deal with the foster care system trying to adopt a little guy who has come into their care, fighting to jump the hurdles that are put in front of them to make it happen.
I watch as family made the tough decision on whether abortion was the right thing when they knew their baby would be born without a spine and at best, had moments to live. They opted to continue the pregnancy but I began to wonder, could I have?
When a young boy in my life lost his mother I started to understand the need for social security for him.
I have had nieces and nephews adopt hard to place children. I have heard their stories.
I see family looking for laborers and can’t find them. Who are then forced to turn to Mexico to find workers. I see others condemning their business for it. I see these workers as fine people doing jobs Americans won’t do.
I visit with friends my age and we talk about how we are so thankful we aren’t raising our kids in today’s world. We talk about bullying, cell phones, and the privileged attitude of some youth.
I lived a life with a hard-working man who ended up dying young from cancer. I saw all of the money he put into social security slip away. I started to wonder if social security was the right thing.
As I lost Kramer, I lost my source for health insurance too. I was forced to seek out Obamacare. That made me see things too.
I watched as people have come in and out of my life and I’ve seen drugs and alcoholism and I’ve seen the toll it can take on families.
I’ve turned a family into DHS for suspected abuse and neglect. I’ve seen first hand how that was handled.
I see two of my daughters work in health care and I hear their plight. I hear them ask people to wear masks. I worry about their safety. I see them cry wondering if it’s safe for them to see me as they worry they might pass something from their work on to me.
I see the covid numbers in my state soar.
Living in southern Minnesota in the 70s and 80s, I had no interaction with people of color. There were few, if any, people of color living in the area at the time. I had never taken time to think about the plight of persons with skin color different than mine until I was exposed to more people. For many years of my life, I am ashamed to say, I naively thought we all grew up the same.
I know now that we truly didn’t all grow up the same. I know now that I grow and change as my life experiences and exposures to things change. If you would have asked me in high school what I thought about homosexuality, I’m completely embarrassed and ashamed of what I might have said. I’m so sorry. If you ask me now, after life experience has changed me, after I’ve been exposed to people who are living, the answer is something kind… understanding…and human. I want all people to experience love. I’m so sorry it took the years it did for me to realize that I needed to change. I will forever be ashamed of myself.
If you had asked me about Obamacare when it first came out, I don’t know that I was against it…I don’t think I had an opinion about it. Nowadays because it affects me, because it affects farmers I know, because I had no other choice, I can see some kind of help is needed. Yes, I’ve heard stories of people it hasn’t been good for, but I have seen many more people it was a lifeline for. Does it need adjusting…likely, does it need to be completely abolished, probably not. There is likely a middle ground.
I have had 54 years (almost 55) of life. My life experiences to date at the time of each and every election have been the biggest determination of who I voted for. I’ve never voted only because of the party except for the first time I voted in college. Since then, I’ve never voted only because of the person. Since then, I’ve never only voted because of the party. Since then, I’ve voted because of me. I’ve voted because of my life experiences and the life experiences of the people and family around me.
I’m proud of myself and can say that I’ve looked at the people even beyond my little bubble. I’ve listened to their life experiences. I’ve thought about which candidate can do the most with my vote? Who can help the most people I know? What party, what person, can give me the most bang for my vote?
I hope you all do this too. I hope that you take each and every life experience that you have had, I hope you take each and every life experience of the friends and family surrounding you. I hope you looked beyond your bubble and ask what might be best for you and for them. I hope you voted accordingly.
I know it’s hard. I’ve had family have a bad experience with Obamacare and sometimes I have to weigh my experience against the experience of another and it’s challenging.
My vote was well thought out. My vote wasn’t systematic. My vote reflects me and my life experiences. When someone demeans the vote I made and says ugly things about it, the soft part of me is really hurt because it makes me feel like they negated the hard life experiences that I have been through that got me to this point-that brought me to this vote…and honestly, that’s hurtful.
Likely many of you voted opposite of me, just like Kramer did from time to time. I accept that. It is a democracy and that is part of the process. But, I’ll admit, I am struggling to accept the hurt from people I thought were close to me. That was never supposed to be part of the process but sadly, it was. Chalk that up to another life experience.
Whatever happens, when the electoral votes are tallied, I hope the hard negative comments can go away. I hope our country can find peace. The division, snide comments, rude jokes, and disrespect have been so hard to swallow…it needs to stop from all sides. I pray that it can.