*disclaimer: This particular entry is about me, my experiences, my thoughts, and my pride. This particular entry is not about whether or not you personally agree with the above. The cool thing about having an experience is no one can tell you it's wrong. Only you can tell your story and this is mine. If you're interested in sparking a debate, you will be talking to yourself. If you can't say something nice, you know the rest*
I feel a bit like today is my wedding day. Perhaps this is a strange thing to hear from an already married woman, and understandably so. However, today I got to re-live a sense of excitement of making a legal commitment to a love of mine.
For many years, I was in a very committed relationship with the republican party. I had eyes for nothing else-- I was stubbornly attached to what I, at the time, thought were my values and morals, and I was headstrong and inflexible in those mentalities. Anything else was wrong, passive, unethical, misled, lowbrow, irrational, phlegmatic, and I wouldn't hear a word about it.
The very idea of an accusation of being closed-minded ignited my temper-- though, looking back, I now clearly see that's exactly what I was ("thou doth protest too much").
When Obama was elected in '08, I was absolutely livid. I was one of those who was convinced he was the antichrist, and I'm humiliated to admit, I came up with that theory all by myself. I recall sitting in my brother's living room, watching the results come in. I texted my then-totally-platonic-friend Paul (the one I ended up marrying) in a RAGE as the winner was projected. He had voted for Obama and tried to reason with me. I believe "Calm down!" was a response among his messages. I wasn't having it.
After "we" lost that election, I took a big step back and did some soul searching. "Wow, that whole process really brought out the worst in me. And for what? In the end it made no difference. It was a lose-lose, and now I'm just embarrassed."
With that, I decided that politics and I needed to take a break for a while. It wasn't healthy for me, and in being completely honest with myself, I realized I had no real political views. I'd never taken the time or put in the effort to get informed about what's on each side of the issues, or what each side of the aisle truly aspires to do or be. My views were nothing more than the regurgitated, over-trusted concepts I'd been fed since birth. My convictions were completely misplaced. I realized I was just a loud megaphone, spewing the brainwash-backwash that other people felt strongly about. Just because I trust, love, and admire someone, that doesn't mean they have it all figured out. That was a profound but uncomfortable lesson. It was time to move on and get to know myself better. I made a very conscious choice to smear the political chalkboard in my mind completely clear and forget everything I ever knew. "Someday," I intended, "I'll return and learn from the ground up, and I'll learn it objectively. The GOP and I will probably end up going the distance, but for now, I have no stance on anything whatsoever."
That's just what I did for about 5 or 6 years, not even voting in the '12 election. Slowly but surely, I started examining small issues. One by one, I came to understand that I align with the liberal party, and I became "democratic leaning". I had properly broken up with the GOP, and that scared me. Everything I come from is deeply conservative and deeply religious. I was glad that at least "democratic leaning" was a comfortably un-compelling place for me to loiter, and I was satisfied to stay quiet and avoid making any waves as I lounged just off to the left.
Something I like about myself is that emotional and intellectual growth tends to be inevitable-- it's a blessing and a curse. Once again, one by one, I continued to redeem clarity on issue after issue. An impartial analysis of what my convictions truly are showed that I value compassion primarily. Before I knew it, I was a true blue democrat. Who'da thunk?
After a brief period of feeling apologetic about my new, substantiated values, I grew to love them. I know who I am now and where I stand, and made unleisurely choices to get here. With overwhelming feelings of pride, I look back and see a girl who took the road less traveled, didn't settle for what was easier, but instead did my homework and and became a woman who paved my own road.
Today, I voted Democrat for the first time in my life. I feel like I got married. The liberal party and I have been together and serious for a while now, but today I went and made it legally official. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.
It wasn't very long ago that women were not allowed to vote. Today, I, a woman, voted. And I voted for a woman to be the next president of our United States. "Patriotic" doesn't begin to describe my euphoria.
Maybe I'll have some wedding cake later.