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I’m Voting Because I Want My Life Back

 

 

 

My father is a quiet man. I was raised with the, fittingly, unspoken understanding that there’s no need to speak unless you can improve on silence. As a kid, I would never see Dad get too high or too low. He almost never yelled and, when he did, it was never truly boisterous. It was always muted enough to assure you everything was normal, like the sound of the air conditioner turning on out outside your house. Throughout my life, this even-keeled presence of his made me equally inspired and frustrated, but most of all it made big moments. If he was showing emotion, whether it be happy or sad, it was a big deal. Big moments were impeccably poignant, because of the moment itself, and because, subconsciously, I wondered when or if I would see one again.

 

I’ve seen my father cry four times: my last high school football game, when I dropped out of college, when our Boston Terrier passed away, and when Donald Trump became president*.

 


 

 

I look at the mirror each morning and wonder, will I ever get back in there again?

 

 

I will never forget that night two years ago or how I felt the next morning. I was absolutely crushed to my core. I’d never felt that way after a family member died or a relationship ended. It was, without exaggeration, the worst I’ve felt in my entire life. At the time, I would say I was more politically active than your average 26-year-old, but not engaged enough to have felt this from only a harmful policy or philosophical disparity. I had, after all, spent my entire life up to that point in the progressive bastion of West Virginia. This was something much different. I didn’t know which way was up. I had no appetite. I felt, in that big moment, that evil had forever conquered good.

 

That morning and all of the disgusting, completely predictable events leading up to this Election Eve have had a profound effect on my life. I am equal parts angry and exhausted from beating back nihilism with a stick every morning. It’s hard to walk out into the world each day feigning normalcy while, in the back of your mind, what you know is depressing and what you don’t know is terrifying. The environment is being actively attacked. The threat of war is omnipresent. The animals are running the zoo. With children locked in cages, bullets flying in churches, and the sheer meaning of truth on hiatus or, worse, entering retirement, I look at those with darker skin or different sexual attractions and find a twisted solace in my mere despair. I look at the mirror each morning and wonder, will I ever get back in there again?

 

This country “elected” a man who’s only life accomplishment is his impressive fabrication of accomplishments. We “elected” a band of jolly men who for years told us they would destroy us because enough of us chomped at the bit for their Robin Hood to steal from the poor and give to the rich. We “elected” a racist, sexist, uninformed piece of garbage not because of an incident in the Middle East or a woman’s emails, but because enough of us are racist, sexist, uninformed pieces of garbage.

 

Tomorrow we all have a chance to change.

 

Good doesn’t beat evil when good doesn’t show up. Tomorrow we must go to the polls as our lives depend on it because they do depend on it. I doubt I will sleep much tonight. I am anxious for the obvious implications, but perhaps even more nervous because, following 2016, I don’t know if I can count on my generation. I want to believe in us again. For the first time in a long time, I want to be assured that disasters have endings. I want my life back from constant hysteria.

 

Tomorrow evening I’ll call Dad. For at least one of us, it will be a big moment.

The Daily Athenaeum Interview