DIARIO DI MAMMA
Pulling back the curtain, pressing the button next to my candidate’s name, pulling back the lever, I feel empowered. Today, I will be casting my vote in the 2016 presidential primary. The thrill never dies. In retrospect, registering to vote in 1996 was cooler to me than getting my driver’s license or turning 21 and being able to legally order a drink. I hate to drive (even though I do it) and I don’t drink alcohol (just don’t like it, never have).
Not everyone shares my love of voting. Many people forego the opportunity for reasons that range from “I’m too tired” to “My vote doesn’t matter.” I can’t get behind laziness, but I totally get why someone would think her choice makes little difference in the grand scheme of things. The system is somewhat rigged, people are buying elections these days, and the outcomes seem to be the same no matter who is in charge. And the middle class is vanishing. But here is why I vote and you should reconsider:
- It is my civic duty. My people chose to become Americans. I’m the daughter of an immigrant. My mother is the daughter of an immigrant. My grandmother is the daughter of an immigrant. Our family easily could have been living in Italy today. Instead, my people came to a new world with a different language, cuisine, and culture. They shed blood, sweat, and tears to become Americans, so I could be an American. Voting is the least I can do to pay back the nation that gave me this family and opportunities I could only dream about back in Europe.
- Other people fought for my right to vote. Women didn’t always have a right to vote. There are plenty of people trying to suppress people’s right to vote right at this very minute. Besides my family’s sacrifices as immigrants throwing their entire being into becoming citizens, good people fought a hard battle to win my right to vote. Their hardship and sacrifice could not be in vain. My vote is a show of gratitude and proof that the fight mattered.
- I must vote for my son. Until my son turns 18, I am his advocate. I must make choices for him. I must vote for the leaders who will set the course for the rest of his life. Voting also allows me to be a good role model, to show him how to be involved in the process, inform himself, and cast a ballot.
- My vote counts, I count. I know it doesn’t seem like it when you read your old civics books and learn about the Electoral College. I know it doesn’t seem like it when you see the blurring lines between the top 1 percent and our politicians. But failing to cast a vote is the same as remaining silent. If you never try to speak up, you can never be heard.
If we, the people – not the 1 percent, not the people throwing punches at protests and trying to block the First Amendment rights of others, not the lobbyists or inside-the-Beltway politicians – all informed ourselves on the issues and made reasonable decisions that resulted in thoughtful votes, the world could be a whole different place. It could be better than we’ve ever imagined. Our vote is all we have left to combat greed and evil. Our vote is all we have left to better ourselves and our children. This year, unlike any point in my lifetime, my vote is how I plan to just say no to hatred and bigotry, to incompetence and inequality of classes, races, religions, sexuality, and genders. Now, I must go and vote for my family, my country, and myself.