The Darker Side of Voting

November 3, 2010 at 5:25 am (Uncategorized) ()

Here’s my secret: I haven’t voted in eight years.

Now, before you start lecturing me on how voting is not only a civic duty, but also a great privilege, let me explain my lack of participation in politics.

In 2002, I moved from my hometown in rural Virginia to the progressive town of Eugene, Oregon. I was overwhelmed with finding a job, adjusting to the culture and trying not to get cussed out by the local gas station attendants for attempting to pump my own gas. (That’s a big no-no in Oregon for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of traveling in that state.) On an average day, I barely knew what county I was in; I did not think I knew what was best for the state because I didn’t always have solid opinions about the issues. I was raised in a Pentecostal southern town, majored in Comparative Religions during college and then moved to the Northwest on a whim. Now if that isn’t a time for sorting out your political stance, well, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Several years went by and before I knew it, I was living one state up in the mighty state of Washington. And while I was somewhat more familiar with the Northwest by that time, I was still very confused. During my five years in Washington, I lived in three different counties and worked in four. I was The Gypsy of I-5. But more importantly, I was not an educated voter and I knew it!

This is where I stop to say: If you want to be angry at me, be angry at me for the right reason. My crime was not in my failure to vote. My crime was my inability to 1.) Learn local politics in an expedient manner and 2.) Take a stand on “the big” issues. For a multitude of reasons, I have always shied away from political discussions and the older I get, the more I keep those opinions to myself especially around those I love. Perhaps this is wrong or worse yet, cowardly. But trust me folks, I’m working on it.

With my twenties over, I find myself back in rural Virginia and for the first time in years, I know where I stand. When I got my new Virginia Driver’s license I finally registered vote not because I was old enough or because I caved to peer pressure, but because I am ready.

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