All my life, I have been waiting to be able to vote. As a child, I remember going to the polls with my mom and patiently waiting for her to turn in her ballot. I would jump up and down and ask her who she voted for.
For years, I was so frustrated with having to wait until I was eighteen to vote. This frustration only worsened during the 2016 election.
During that election, my rights as a woman and as an American citizen were attacked. I wanted nothing more than to be able to vote in defense of my fundamental rights.
I was only sixteen though, so my voice could not be heard. I tried however. Every chance I got, I spoke out in defiance of the Republican nominee and fought to defend his opposers.
In the end, my solitary voice went unnoticed.
It is hard to scream when everyone around you refuses to acknowledge the sound.
I persisted however and the day I turned eighteen I registered to vote.
I had not even opened my birthday presents before filling out the online application.
Last week, during the Alabama primaries I exercised my right to vote for the very first time.
As I signed my name, I could not help but think of all those before me who could not vote simply based on their race or gender.
For so long, only a small portion of American citizens were allowed to voice their beliefs politically. This is why it baffles me when I hear people say that they did not vote.
Centuries passed until African Americans and women could vote. Our nation’s very history is built upon the fight against inequality and when we choose to forgo voting, that fight dies just a bit more.
The fact of the matter is, our nation was formed during a time when white, wealthy men ruled pretty much everything.
It is because of this that the fight against the patriarchy within the United States remains vital, arguably more so than before.
Citizens of the United States still face discrimination, sexism, racism, homophobia and much more on a daily basis. We are not a perfect nation, nor are we near to it. We are growing.
Much like a child, our nation was not birthed mature. Our nation is still growing up and through exercising our rights to vote, we can help it grow to best fit future generations, not the generation that will not live to see their policies play out.
We must fight for our future in addition to what we are in need of and yearn for now. There is more to life than the present, much like there is more to our nation than what it is in need of today.
So many within my generation feel compelled to speak out against what they feel is wrong. So many feel an urge to fight for what they think is right. Yet, so many of my generation refuse to fight where it matters: the polls.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” What we vote and advocate for is more important and influential than anything else.
As a Democrat in Alabama, I know that the likelihood of my state supporting my prefered candidate is almost zero. So, when it comes time to vote, my true vote is during the state’s primaries.
I know that the number of Republican voters outnumbers me and my values in this state, but I do not let that stop me from fighting for what I believe in.
I am not fighting for the policies and laws I want to go into effect now. I am advocating for the world I want my children to grow up in.
I waited so long to be able to have my voice heard throughout the nation. I impatiently watched my mother fight for what she believed in. I angrily watched as my values and beliefs were tarnished during the 2016 election and the years to follow.
I waited and rather than complaining about not seeing the changes I want, I got out and voted in order to change the course of our nation’s history.
Voting is not just our constitutional right. It is vital and a necessity in order to better our country and propel us into the future, rather than allowing the country to fall back into it’s troublesome roots.