I was wearing a shirt with elephants on it.
Politics aren’t really my thing. It’s not that I don’t vote, I do. It’s not that I don’t follow elections, I do. It’s just that I can’t stand the divide between parties. No gray area. You either are, or you aren’t. You vote with your party, no matter what. This seems ridiculous to me.
A little personal history. My mom is a Republican. Fox News all day. Her father was a Democrat. Quotation marks in the air, ranting and raving about the wonders of Bill Clinton. My other grandfather was a staunch Republican. His wife, my grandmother, used to joke that “Bill Clinton can put his shoes under my bed any day.”
I grew up a bit confused.
It’s 1992. An election year. Clinton Vs. Bush (sound familiar? Hello Time Warp). We are learning about the election in school. It comes time for me to cast my ballot for the very first time. Who do I vote for?
I kid you not.
I actually wrote a letter to the Daily News of New York City. I think I was just tired of listening to everyone bicker about politics. And I didn’t like the idea of going with the masses. I needed to be different. I wrote, “If I could vote, I would vote for Ross Perot. He doesn’t seem to care if he wins or loses, he just wants to make American better for all of us.” It was published. My first published piece of writing. I was 9 years old.
A few years ago, I was teaching high school English. One of my favorite novels to teach was Fahrenheit 451. I am absolutely in awe of how Ray Bradbury, the author, completely predicted the future. One of my many favorite parts is when they talk about the election. Here’s a tidbit:
“Sounds fine,” said Mrs. Bowles. “I voted last election, same as everyone, and I laid it on the line for President Noble. I think he’s one of the nicest-looking men who ever became president.”
“Oh, but the man they ran against him!”
“He wasn’t much, was he? Kind of small and homely and he didn’t shave too close or comb his hair very well.”
“What possessed the ‘Outs’ to run him? You just don’t go running a little short man like that against a tall man. Besides, he mumbled. Half the time I couldn’t hear a word he said. And the words I did hear I didn’t understand!”
“Fat, too, and didn’t dress to hide it. No wonder the landslide was for Winston Noble. Even their names helped. Compare Winston Noble to Hubert Hoag for ten seconds and you can almost figure the results.”
This was obviously a spoof on Nixon and Kennedy, right? Except he published it in 1953. Nixon and Kennedy debated in 1960.
Being in NY during the Obama election was interesting. People drew sticks in the mud and refused to cross sides. “Oh, you’re just voting for him because he’s black” vs. the NYC hip hop and R&B station, Hot 97, imploring, “If you’re black, you owe it to your people to get down to the nearest voting station and vote for Obama” vs. “He’s not even FROM America! I want to see his birth certificate!”
But the funny thing is, nobody was really talking about the issues. Black, white, red, orange, purple. In many circles it became a divide based on skin color; you were either racist or you weren’t.
My elephant shirt doesn’t make me a Republican. My views on race, education, poverty, etc. don’t make me a Democrat. It doesn’t make sense in 2015 to keep everyone in these boxes. I’m sure candidates often say they believe something the party believes simply to not lose votes. It’s ridiculous.
I don’t want to raise my daughter to vote for someone because he or she is handsome. I don’t want to raise my daughter to vote for someone because of skin color. I don’t want to raise my daughter to vote for someone because of gender–first female president? Great. If she can help this country. And I don’t want my daughter to feel compelled to vote based on elephants and donkeys. I want my daughter to vote for someone because she believes in what that someone’s goals and aspirations are for this country.
I would really like the newspapers to publish the candidates in a giant table without numbering them (because oooh, number one, (s)he must be the best!). In this table, there are no names. There are no political parties. Candidates are differentiated by symbols. Below each symbol is a list of what that candidate believes. We read the list and vote for who we like best based on goals, values, policies, etc. No looks. No gender. No sexual orientation. No who-has-the-most-money. No political party lines. No nothing except the issues.
To be honest, it’s hard to even know what the issues are with the current media circus. The other night I was watching a little bit of the Republican debate in Cleveland. And I couldn’t focus on anything except the Facebook advertisement in the background.
Yes, Mr. Bradbury, you were right. You were totally right.