Are You An Elephant or a Donkey?

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poliyticsThe very first weekend I was in Ohio, a man jeered at me in an elevator. He snarled, “Well, I guess we know her political party.”

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?

Ross Perot.

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.”

Well…

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.

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One minute my husband and I are strolling down the boardwalk near our home in New Jersey with our daughter and dog, and the next we're on a plane bound for Cincinnati! As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing better than an adventure. Plus, it seems as though all of the things I love: running, snowboarding, traveling, food, and sports are all right here for us to enjoy. I'm looking forward to discovering this city with my family, trying new things, and sharing my experience with you!

1 COMMENT

  1. A while back, I was talking politics with my boyfriend. His thirteen-year-old son was listening and asked if Hillary would be the next president based on the reasoning that since we now had an African American president, the next one needed to be a “girl.” This question displeased me for several reasons: 1) I’d like to think that the next President of the United States will be voted into office for better reasons than his/her gender. 2) Party affiliation aside, could we at least give Hillary some respect by referring to her a woman? 3) As a student of one of the top-rated middle schools in the nation, I would expect him to know a little bit more about how the election process works. To be fair to him, though, there are many US citizens who will cast their ballots based on gender or race, and even more who don’t know how an election works.

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