Last year we cheered and waved American flags through misty eyes while Lee Greenwood belted out Proud to be an American over a square boom box in a large room with bad lighting. The kids and I looked on as my husband raised his right hand and took the oath for citizenship.
I wasn’t sure this day would come mainly because I wasn’t sure my Africa born, British passport toting husband had any interest in American citizenship.
It seemed he fell in love with me despite my country of origin not because of it.
Nevertheless, we began the long and rather arduous process of the green card application a few months after we tied the knot.
Since we were living abroad at the time the process seemed incredibly complicated and involved endless calls and several trips to the US Embassy in Barbados.
The culmination of the process ended with a rather close exam from a Nurse Ratchet trainee and one not so covert marital disagreement in front of an immigration official.
We received confirmation of the green card after the immigration official waived off our wedding album and said I can tell you are married. I watched you fighting.
Further confirmation that the stories Hollywood tell us are absolute crap.
Immigration could care less about toothbrush color and what side of the bed we sleep on.
What convinced them we were wed was that we bickered.
After three years of living in the US, he was eligible for citizenship. After 7 years we finally got around to the swearing-in. This year he will be eligible to take part in American democracy and join the rest of us at the polls.
The first time I voted was for Bob Doyle and I was a member of the young Republicans. I joined solely to impress a guy.
I had no interest in the party, Bob Doyle, or politics. I voted because it was drilled into me in a civics class that you must vote. I voted for the candidate because a boy told me how to vote. I had little interest in what was happening in the world.
Admitting this makes me want to cover myself in a shame duvet.
The shame comes not from my choice of candidate, or my affiliation with a party, but from the fact I gave my opinion, my voice my autonomy away because I was more concerned with impressing someone than honoring my voice.
A friend shared that her mother conspiratorially whispered to her that she would not be voting for Trump, but swore her to secrecy by saying “don’t you dare tell your father.”
Another friend shared that his brother-in-law was threatening to cut off his 18-year-old son financially if he voted a certain way.
My question is, why? If we are in a democracy why do we feel like we can dictate people’s choices?
Why do we think it is ok, and in some cases believe it is our right to rob others of their choice, their opinion, their voice?
Is it not our job to uplift one another and empower one another to vote our conscience?
I am achingly disappointed with our political landscape. I do not like either candidate.
Despite my disappointment at our less than mediocre options I will vote.
We must vote.
We must look at the issues that resonate with us and listen to our internal voice.
I cannot vote for Trump.
I am a business owner, and some of his policies have been good for small business. I pay less tax. I do appreciate this fact.
However, I cannot make my decision solely based on financial gain.
I cannot vote for a candidate who behaves as he does.
I have a long list of why I cannot vote for him. I’ll not list it here.
The list is long and tiresome and depressing.
I cannot vote for him because his behavior does not align or resonate with my internal voice.
I cannot vote for him as a woman.
I cannot vote for him as a parent.
I cannot vote for him as someone who believes in inclusion, love, and empathy.
I will not vote for him as a business owner even though he saves me money.
No price is high enough to sell my vote for four more years of division, disrespect, and exclusion.
As I think back to that room where we proudly waved the flag and watched my husband take the oath to become an American citizen, it was full of hope, love, and inclusion.
Despite what the news, the politicians, and even our neighbors tell us, the world and our nation are still filled with hope, love, and inclusion.
I believe that if we all listen to the voice inside of us and sit with the values that resonate with us we will make the right decision.
Your vote may look different than mine. What's important is that we give each other the space to form our own opinions and that we use our voice to VOTE.
Please this election be respectful, do not steal your fellow citizens' autonomy, learn to respectfully disagree and please VOTE.