I was looking through my Gee’s Bend Quilt book today (as I often do) and opened to this quilt by Irene Williams. I don’t know if you can see it, but she made it with strips of fabric with the word “Vote” on it.
I couldn’t wait to vote this morning.
In our town we vote in what used to be a one room school-house just down the road from us. It’s now the town court, but the blackboard is still in the building. There were three of four people ahead of us and it was pretty cozy in there.
I’ve always felt strongly about voting although I didn’t vote the first time I was able to. I know I wanted to, but I didn’t have enough information or know how to go about getting it in order to make an informed decision. Although my father had his political opinions, neither he or my mother ever talked about voting. I think I was embarrassed to let anyone know that I wanted to vote.
Four years later I was in art school and still wasn’t paying much attention to politics. Most of the other students in my classes were Democrats and I felt a kinship with them and started talking to them about politics. I voted for Dukakis even though I wasn’t completely sure why.
During that election my ex husband’s grandparents told me that they hoped I voted the “right” way. I knew my “right way” was different from theirs, but I never forgot them saying that to me.
Everyone thinks their way is the “right way”.
After that I began paying attention to politics, some years more than others, and voted in every Presidential and most Senate elections (I’m not so good when it comes to local politics).
I’ve always believed in the importance of voting even if I was often surrounded by people who didn’t. I’m not even sure where the belief came from. And although my process of choosing who to vote for is mostly intellectual, my beliefs about voting are more visceral.
I’m not embarrassed to vote anymore. And I have to say, this election the idea of voting the “right” way has raised some new issues for me. Given me a lot to think about.
Over all I came away feeling that one of the most important things I could do, besides voting, is not engage in the divisiveness of today’s politics. Not to hate my neighbor for the sign she has on her front lawn.
I’m not a hundred percent sure about this. A part of me keeps wanting to yell that this time I am “right”. But when everyone is so sure that they’re right, it leaves no room for anything else. And I don’t want to slam the door on the people who disagree with me about politics. But I don’t want to argue with them either.
Talking about politics has always felt dangerous to me. So now, what I try to do is listen and understand. Even though the slightest bit of anger makes me want to run and hide.
So I’m doing what I can. I’m making the effort to keep the connections between me and the people who disagree with me. And this morning I voted. And that felt really good.