“Did you vote today?” my dentist asked his hygienist mid-way through my root canal on Michigan Primary Day this past Tuesday.
“Nah, I don’t vote. I’m not really interested in politics,” she answered, leaning in to suck out my saliva with one of her instruments. “My dad was really political growing up and it kind of turned me away from politics,” she added with a shrug.
Between the wadded cotton ball stuck inside my upper cheek, the suction device, and the numbing agents rendering me speechless, I couldn’t have said anything even if I’d wanted to—but needless to say, this politically-passionate chick with an “I VOTED” sticker proudly affixed under my dental bib was completely befuddled by this exchange.
I wanted to shake this girl in her late 20s by the shoulders and yell, “You don’t need to be political to vote!”
Politics matter to everyone, even if you don’t consider yourself “political.” Even if you’re not “interested” in them the other 364 days a year. You don’t need to be following Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, stumping for a candidate, or be addicted to Politico to recognize that politics influence nearly every aspect of our lives. From the wages we earn, to the income taxes we pay, to the education our kids have, to the healthcare we have, to the home we’ve mortgaged, to the rights we have as a citizen (or the rights we continue to fight for), to a million other examples… politics can shape and/or reinforce our values and worldview.
So the notion that someone wouldn’t vote because they’re “not into politics” is completely foreign to me—especially in this heated election cycle. In this election, it isn’t about Red States or Blue States… liberals or conservatives… or the anger/enthusiasm on either side of the aisle. It’s about our future as Americans.
To me, this election symbolizes the potential erosion of our standing in the world if the highest office in the land becomes occupied by someone who I believe is a racist, rude, xenophobic, narcissist who bullies everyone he comes across or who disagrees with him. Aside from countless grievances such as bashing women, every major race and religion (with the exception of ours—probably because his son-in-law and daughter are Jewish!), Trump bashed the POPE.
This man is running for president—the highest office of the land. This is NOT the kind of man I’d want my children to look up to or emulate. He flat-out terrifies me… and that was before he asked his “followers” to raise their right hands and essentially swear allegiance to him in a frightening Hitler-esque move recently.
There is so much hatred spewed out of his mouth and at his rallies, and that ugliness has now seeped into some children’s mouths. This blatant bigotry is not only unacceptable to me; it’s un-American. And the fact that it is proliferating as he grows in the polls is terrifying.
As a woman, as a Jew, as the wife of a Salvadoran immigrant who became an American citizen in 2009, and as the mother of two half-Latino children, the outcome of this election matters a ton to me.
I want my kids to grow up in a tolerant world where their differences are what makes them unique; where they aren’t judged by the color of their skin, the language they speak, or the religious holidays they observe. I want them to be loved and respected for who they are at their core: compassionate, loving, and accepting—because that is how they are being raised in our little multi-cultural family. Those are the values I hold dear.
As parents, it is our responsibility to teach right from wrong and to lead by example. I believe it is also the job of the president to lead us by example—and that is precisely why I fear the direction this country would be headed in if Trump gets elected.
How about you? Has your interest in politics waxed or waned this election season?