As a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house (free child care right?), and over the years I noticed how often they would bemoan the news. Grandpa was the silent type: he’d see a depressing new story and mutter curses under his breath as he turned away. Grandma was a lot more vocal: she’d talk long and loud about how much worse America seemed to be becoming over the years with constant news of always more poverty, more crime, more hate.
In a way, you could say my grandma is right. How many mass shootings did we see proliferate the news this summer? How often, when you were last at the airport and encountered security numerous times, did you think about terrorism?
Yet, have things really gotten worse over the years? How long did the US embrace slavery, and Jim Crow laws, before discrimination became socially unacceptable? How many times has a real fight broken out in the US Capitol? (In one incident, in 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks nearly killed Senator Charles Sumner by beating him repeatedly with a walking cane on floor of the Old Senate Chamber.)
All in all, it seems to me that the US has not gotten worse over the years; rather, it has always been shit, and somehow, by some miracle, Americans have always managed to endure and adapt. To me, that’s what makes America beautiful and worth living in.
There are many people today who are disgusted by the state of American politics. It’s completely understandable, with the stalemate in Congress, an ever growing debt crisis, and bad news that seems to come out of Washington every day. However, voting this election, exercising that Constitutional right that so many Americans worked so hard and so long for, should be a priority. It’s through voting that we elect the people who not only represent our values but who will advocate for those policy initiatives we so want: things like #dontdoublemyrate, the Affordable Care Act, or the repeal of it if you prefer, etc. It’s okay if you’re disgusted with politics, you’re not alone; but in November, I hope you’ll vote for the person you’re least disgusted with. Then, one day, maybe even run yourself.
My grandma’s voting in this election. Are you?