This is the first election I am eligible to vote for. I’m going to pretend it was for some sort of citizenship and/or voting registration hang up, so you should enter my bubble of delusion with me.
For the last four years, I’ve thought here and there about what I would do when the day came to mark my ballot. A lot of things have changed for me since 2008 – I no longer live in the all important swing state of Florida, but I own a condo in said state, so taxes still affect me. My parents are getting older, so I have to consider the odds that the estate tax will affect my life. I have friends who have had to make the choice of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.
Most importantly, I am in journalism. I work in news. I am around people who also work in news. Essentially, it’s not my job to have opinions (or at least not to make them known). It’s my job to inform people so they can make decisions for themselves. It’s my job to know so much about this election and these men running for the highest office in the land that I basically convince myself anyone who wants that job is insane, and therefore not fit to tell me what to do with my wallet or my uterus.
Time and time again I’ve come into a new newsroom for an internship or a temp job or, now, for a real job and gotten THE TALK. No, not that talk — being a journalist is birth control enough. Really, no one I know has gotten any since, like, April of 2011 — the one where they tell you not to donate to campaigns, not to have a bumper sticker for any candidate on your car, that you have to disclose if you’re married to someone involved in the election.
So last night, when I was filling out my absentee ballot, there were some bubbles that were easy to fill out. The ones that I got to learn about by reading the Tampa Bay Times online, not over drinks with friends who work on campaigns. The ones that I researched by asking my lawyer how each amendment would affect me, not the ones in which ex boyfriends’ relatives are running (those I had NO qualms about abstaining from).
But last night, when I was leaning over my stove filling out my ballot (because my life is a sitcom and we all hang out in our kitchen when I have a perfectly good desk in my room), I legitimately had a problem when it came to making the big decision. I just couldn’t. Take a breath before blowing up my phone explaining how I’ve undermined your career in some way. Holy God in heaven – everyone I know is in politics. That’s disturbing.
It was always easy for me not to donate to campaigns (I don’t have any money) or buy a bumper sticker (I don’t have a car) or not be married to someone involved in the election (because, seriously). But to continue to be able to act completely unbiased for the next two weeks, let alone the next four years, after I had, in the sight of God and my roommate (not the one who works for Romney, mind you), made a choice and had a horse in the race… I just found that idea so difficult to come to terms with. Maybe that’ll come with time, but if I can’t trust myself to be 100% able to separate my real life from my work life (and at this point in my career, they are the same thing), I just need to bow out.
I’m not saying other people should do this. I think everyone should vote, but only if they’ve made a decision for themselves. I live with a campaign staffer and have friends who make ads for campaigns and a mother who tried to marry me off to a member of a major Rep. donor. I’m in a state of sensory overload and it’s hard for me to sort out what’s 100% truly, authentically me right now. I need to get used to this crazy life.
I’m very commitment phobic when it comes to my personal life anyway – I need a degree of flexibility in my very structured, Type A life. While I know my one vote won’t make a difference, I want it to mean something to me. (Somehow everything I’m saying in this post sounds sounds like it’s coming from THE TALK – the real one…that I never actually got, now that I think about it.) So the box for the President went back into its envelope as clear as my conscience and as white as Michael Jackson.