I’m turning 34 on November 6th. This year, not unlike several other years of my life, my birthday is shared with Election Day.
A planned c-section, November 6th was the first day available for my mom to choose and she often says she picked it because she couldn’t wait to meet me. Having recently had my second child, I realize she was also probably at the point of no sleep, swollen ankles, reflux and overall discomfort.
The year I was born was also an Election Day, the day Ronald Reagan was re-elected for his second term. Whether my birthday has anything to do with it or not, I’ve always been interested in politics and elections. I grew up in a pro-union Democratic household (that by my measure leans more toward the middle). I remember staying up excitedly watching the polls each time as Obama was elected and with equal disbelief as Trump was elected two years ago.
During the 2016 Election I was home on maternity leave and had taken J with me to vote. I remember whispering to him as I loaded him back in the car that he had just become a part of history and that, that night he was going to see our first female President elected. Later that night, I stared, yelled at the TV and pleaded as each state turned red and the election was officially called.
It’s hard to believe that was just two years ago. Based on the depth of our political divide, it feels as though 10 years have passed. There is hate, open and undeniable, flowing from the mouths of our politicians, reporters, celebrities and regular people. What scares me most is that it was likely always lurking quietly under the surface but restrained by social norms. Now, there has been a shift and with it what had previously been stifled is now shouting, unbridled and accepted by a party that acts as though they are unable to effect change against it. I am often in disbelief of how we got here.
I assumed all Americans and I were on the same page wanting at a minimum: equality, inclusion and fairness, no matter our race, religion, identity or status. I see now that, that might have been naive or idyllic. Nonetheless, I think it’s a place we should be and if the people we have in place to support those ideals for us are not hearing our voices, it is time to show them that we will not stand by and be ignored.
It may have been easy to be apathetic before, and I know it can be a challenge to get to the polls if you’re working, don’t have a car or are otherwise inconvenienced. When there was less on the line we could assume that the people that could make it to the polls were aligned with our interests and therefore their vote was as good as ours. That is not where we are today. Apathy in the face of information is irresponsible.
Voting in 2016 was a defining moment for me, despite the outcome. I am on maternity leave again for this Election and we have an opportunity to define history and take back our nation. I will be loading up my boys, taking them to the polls and whispering to each as I put them back in the car that they were a part of history.
Don’t let apathy take hold on the 6th, the stakes are too high. It’s no longer about being a Democrat or a Republican, its about realizing we are all, at our core, human beings that deserve rights, respect and better than what our current representation is giving us. Get out and vote, it’ll be the best birthday present I could have ever asked for.
*On a lighter and unrelated note, my husband’s favorite President was Ronald Reagan. Coincidence? I think not.