We all have many ways by which we self-identify. We can be a mother, spouse, teacher, a New Yorker, psychologist, executive, hiker, fur-baby mama and so forth. There are numerous possibilities. There are some self-descriptors that are constant across situations and then there some by which we identify in only certain situations. While growing up, my mother had her own descriptors that were very rooted and I most definitely knew. She was very passionate about being a New Yorker, a country and western music lover, and a voter.
She was a proud voter and I never was allowed to forget it. My mother voted in every single election and she took me with her so that I could see her in action. She told me repeatedly of how so many had died for the right for us to vote. I had no option but to also become a voter. In life I try to be as non-judgmental as possible. But one thing that does get me riled up is when people identify as a non-voter. And, by that I mean those that proudly note that they don’t vote in elections. To me that is unfathomable.
Recently, I spent over two hours talking with some young staff members who don’t believe in voting. They gave me the same excuse you tend to hear out there: 1) one’s vote doesn’t matter; and 2) they didn’t understand all the ballot initiatives. Let me contextualize a bit. In California you do often end up voting for over 15 propositions in one voting session. And, it most certainly takes some reading and research to understand all the propositions. Further, in California it is almost already known who will win the state’s vote for President or senate. As a result, some voters may feel that voting is useless and too taxing. But the old adage of all politics are local really hold here and must be emphasized.
In talking to these individuals many of them felt that the rent is too high in Los Angeles, that prison sentences are too tough and that the roads are too congested. They have to leave home extra early in order to get to work just slightly late. In hearing them bring up all these concerns I noted to them that these have all been subject to statewide and county-wide ballot initiatives. I tried to show them how these do impact their everyday lives. Some listened to me and asked for help then understanding the current ballet propositions. I felt good. For a second. There were still those who did not feel the need to vote. I then asked them all if they loved their mothers. Of course, they answered. Then, I told them, that they had to vote because of their mothers. For the fights they had to endure. For their future as they continue to age. When I told them of how proudly my mom went to the polling stations whether there was rain or snow on the ground in NYC, they smiled. My mom voted for our futures. And, we should do the same. Representation matters. We all should matter.