For anyone who happens to be reading this from the UK right now, all I can say is that I am so sorry. I’ve been following J.K. Rowling and Emma Watson on Twitter as they (and other authors, like Maureen Johnson) post all kinds of things about the ripple effect this is having. I saw one post already today where a girl was talking about how her brother-in-law may lose his job in France, her immigrant mother is worried about her future, and this girl no longer has enough money to pay for rent and food because the value of the pound has dropped so suddenly.
As if that weren’t bad enough, you’re also grieving the loss of Jo Cox and the startling resignation of David Cameron. I cannot even imagine what your world is like right now.
It’s horrifying. But this tweet in particular is the most horrifying thing I’ve seen yet:
The ironic thing is that I’m not typically what you’d call a political person. I normally avoid the topic entirely because all it does is cause arguments. But in light of Orlando, of the Brexit, of the current presidential candidates here in the US, I find that I cannot stay out of this any longer. Too much depends on us standing up for what we believe in.
And I’m taking a stand right now. Because I am angry.
What I’m starting to see in headlines is that this is all millennials’ fault.
I’ll agree with one part of that: statistics are showing that 19% of 18-24 year olds either didn’t know which way to vote or abstained from voting entirely. That number steadily dropped until the 65+ crowd was down to only 6% undecided or abstaining. At 24 years old, I can see where that indecision comes from. Family and/or friends may be pulling you in one direction while your conscious and/or other family and friends are pulling you in another, trying to get you to vote a certain way. Trust me, I’ve been there.
But I simply cannot agree with these experts when they say that this is entirely millennials’ fault. We cannot blame millennials for what Boris Johnson (who seems a lot like the British version of Trump) is saying. We cannot blame millennials for the fact that some people (like the one from the above tweet) apparently aren’t aware of how the democratic process works. We cannot blame millennials for the xenophobic fear that has bled through the world recently. And we certainly cannot blame millennials for the politicians that feed on that fear.
You need to make your own choices. Do what you think is best. Those who are pressuring you have no business knowing which way you voted.
Let me share with you a story. When I was in college, only about a month after starting to date my boyfriend at the time, we both were voting absentee for the 2012 election. I–being a Hermione type–followed the directions to the letter. Fill it out alone. Tell no one how you voted. And I didn’t. (Partly because I have a conflict-avoidance personality.)
My boyfriend, on the other hand, filled his out in the same room as me. I gave him privacy and, since we were both from different states, it didn’t really matter to me how he was voting.
Until the moment he called his dad. In the middle of voting, he called his dad to ask who he should vote for. It wasn’t a “Hey Dad, I’m torn. How should I decide who to vote for?” That I could have lived with. No, it was, “Hey Dad, which of these candidates should I fill in the bubble for?” It rankled me so badly that I probably should have kicked him out of my dorm room right then. Basically, his dad voted twice because my boyfriend wasn’t taking the time to make an informed decision and vote for himself.
Think for yourself. Decide what’s right for you based on what you know.
Look, it’s fine to look for help from those you trust. While I never come straight out and say who I’m voting for, I do talk to my parents about politics. My dad and I like to play devil’s advocate with each other to think through each potential choice. And that works for me. But my choice is my own. It’s not my dad’s or my mom’s or anyone else’s. Mine.
My political views are, at times, vastly different from those of my parents, of my aunts and uncles and cousins, of my brothers. I know this. This does not influence who I vote for because I have a brain of my own.
Come November when it’s time for us to vote, PLEASE show up to the polls. I don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat, Independent, or part of the Pizza Party. The last thing we need is someone blaming millennials for X, Y, or Z because many of us couldn’t find the time to vote again.
It can be nerve-wracking. I get it too. Hello, introverted book nerd who can hardly make eye contact with strangers (and keep in mind, I teach). But those few minutes that it takes to vote will have long-lasting effects that we will have to live with for years to come. So make your own decision because you will have to live with it.
WE make change. WE are strong and capable. WE are the future of this world. People will try to tell you your opinions don’t count or that you’re making the wrong decision. Just smile and go ahead doing what you believe.