Gratitude in November, Day 6

Today I am thankful for my voice, my vote.

I am sure if you are of voting age, you’ve already decided whether or not you are going to vote today, so I’m not going to try to convince anyone here. But I am going to tell you why voting is important to me.

I live in Oklahoma. Pretty much the reddest state there is. Unabashedly so. When I turned 18, I registered Republican. But in my first election in 2008, I voted Democrat. I have since switched my registration to align with my beliefs.

Throughout college and grad school, I met people from backgrounds and value systems drastically different from my own, I read widely, I experienced things. My worldview broadened. I learned the importance of questioning everything instead of just taking someone’s word for it. This pushed me to the left.

I feel like I got the absolute most out of my college experience, I feel like I embraced the point of college–to look at the facts before me, use my brain, and make my own evaluation of the situation. I think it would have been a waste of money and time if I came out the same person I was before going.

In the past two years I’ve become more solidly left, though I’m not just blindly, unquestioningly left. I feel like that old Buffalo Springfield song. “There’s something happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear.” Although it’s totally becoming more and more clear.

Oklahoma is basically a one-party state. All branches of the government cater to the Republican party. I know that here my vote is a protest vote. But protest has a strong and important place in American history. Without protest, without that opposition party agitating for change, I think of how many fewer rights people would have. Recent efforts to curb the rights of various groups–taking away the ability to vote, taking away the right to get married, taking away the right to choose what happens in your own body–shows why dissent is so important. If it didn’t matter, if it didn’t give the individual power, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to take away these rights.

I am voting today because it’s my voice. It’s my chance to express in a visible way my complete and utter dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. I am so grateful for that right because throughout history that voice has been denied to so many people so that they can be taken advantage of.

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