Elizabeth Gomez: Voting – Shut Up and Just Do It

Voting: Come on people JUST DO IT. Seriously, DO IT. I don’t want to be that crotchety middle-aged woman who has to get on a soap box about civic duties, but it seems that I must. In the midterm elections, I was outraged at the number of young whippersnappers who proudly touted on their Facebook profiles that they did not vote. Why didn’t they vote? Because they’re cynical, entitled, little snot-nosed assholes… or because they don’t understand the importance of voting, unless it involves Christina Aguilera trying to train another pop singer that we’ll forget the moment we turn off the television.

Do I sound bitter? Yes, I am. I live in Illinois and work for a Chicago politician. If anyone understands cynicism towards voting, it’s me. Four out of seven of our last governors have gone to jail. Since 1973, 31 of Chicago’s Alderman have been imprisoned. Politicians are assholes, but I still go to the polls because dickhead politicians aren’t the only part of the equation.

Let’s start with FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS. The right for the people to elect our government is what our country was founded upon. It’s probably the one action where we can give old white men some credit now-a-days. By fighting for and winning our right to have a free government, we, as a society, are able to come up with other super cool rights like not being murdered for saying stupid things like, “Don’t get your kids vaccinated” or being able to shoot a deer with a missile launcher because they are too damn fast and we’re too damn lazy to move. These are characteristics of being a true American, and as we Americans know, everyone wants to be one, so vote.

It was only 50 years ago when President Johnson enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, forcing states to stop their shenanigans and let black people vote. To put this in perspective, even though he was only a few months old, Chris Rock was born before people of color were able to vote freely. We, as American citizens, should exercise our right to vote because it was our right to vote that gave everyone the right to vote. Radicals and rebels, who were registered to vote and who could threaten to take away the jobs of complacent politicians, were able to make this change happen. Similar to the women’s rights issues, we have much work to do in the world of civil rights, but without our ability to pressure the government to stop fucking around, America would look very different today.

womensmarchLadies, can we talk? I know our suffragettes won our right to vote almost one hundred years ago, but it was less than 30 years ago that our government decide to start Women’s History month. It took seven years of campaigning before Congress and the White House recognized women for their achievements. Well, only partially, because, well, equal pay, right? And how about your right to choose when you have a family and how? It seems that many people are up in arms about when or how a woman chooses to have a child but very few of those people are preventing men from getting boners, knocking up ladies, and then walking away from their responsibilities. If I seem mad, I am.

Young people – oh my god, you make me the angriest. Put down your iPhone for one second? You can take your thirty selfies while flashing a peace sign later. You are being outvoted by people who are 65 years and older. They are all going to die soon and have no idea how the world is changing because they rarely leave their houses since they are still trying to figure out how to program the microwave. As for my generation of 40-somethings, we hate you for siphoning our youth and throwing it in our face. We want to ruin you so that we feel better about ourselves, so why should we care about what you want? You need to vote. Find a cause to get fired up about. Get angry about the fact that you can be drafted into war before you have your first buttery nipple shot off of the stomach of some waitress at Hooters. Get fired up about something! Talk to your local politicians, get the laws changed, and then vote.

Christina-Aguilera-Rock-the-Vote1I can’t tell you how satisfied I felt when I was talking to a young woman that I know who works in retail tell me that she didn’t vote during the last election. She said that she’d rather not vote for politicians that she didn’t know anything about. My response to her was, “Well, you should know that if you had went to the polls, there was a measure on the ballot to raise the minimum wage so that you can buy food. But, I guess you must love working two jobs in order to pay your rent.”

My mother, who is an immigrant, called me the day she was finally able to participate in an election about eight years ago. I remember it because I was walking through Grant Park standing with thousands of people watching a big screen of our first black president give his acceptance speech. I couldn’t believe that there was a brown man on the screen and how close he was to the color of my skin when my phone rang.

In my mother’s Engrish, she proudly said to me, “Risssa, I voting for the black one. I rike him berry much and he winning! Can you believing it? He winning because we voting. I am real American now.” I was moved by my mother’s excitement and regardless of how anyone feels about POTUS, it was a significant moment in America’s history, less than 50 years from the time that black people were given the real right to vote, and my mother had the opportunity to be part of that.

Which reminds me of one last thing – Voter ID Laws. While I understand the fear of voter fraud, based on the statistics, I think the bad outweighs the good. I find it completely suspicious that our governmental fat cats are purposely trying to push out specific groups of people from voting. The poor and the elderly are the ones who are going to most affected. Not to mention my friend, Bob, who lives in a cabin down by the river, who only comes out every four years to vote for president. He doesn’t want an i.d. because he thinks it’s his right to live off the grid and he’s crazy, but he’s right. These are all the people we need to help most – the poor, elderly, and totally insane.

Casting a ballot – with tick marks or if left completely empty except for your name – is the easiest thing you can do as a true symbolic gesture that you care about what is happening in our country and support fighting for a better government. Forget the politicians, you won’t know who sucks until you let them into office, that’s just a fact. It’s like dancing to Blurred Lines, until you dig in a little and realize it’s horrible. So what can you do? Listen a little closer next time, pay attention to what they are saying, and then head down to your local VFW to take 10 minutes to cast a ballot. Please.

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