Why Sasha Votes
Before every election, I watch two episodes of The West Wing: Two Cathedrals & Election Night. I know people say, since 2016, liberals watch The West Wing to escape reality, longing for what they wish were true today. While I 100% get why Liberals may do that (or Conservatives - let's not be biased here, I know plenty of Republicans who love the show), that is not why I watch before every election.
I watch to remind myself of where we were, politically, when these episodes aired in the early 2000s; to get excited about the political process if it were untainted by today's realities; but mostly, I watch these episodes because they are great and get me jazzed about politics. I was always drawn to The West Wing because, at the end of the day, the series truly appeals to my "why" when it comes to voting and being involved in politics. Particularly the character, President Bartlet - who is, of course, a fictional president; but for me, he is more than that. He is the hope of a better country. He is the hope of a brighter future. He is, in short, the manifestation of the same hope that my single vote represents. In an ideal world, I would get the opportunity in my real world to cast my ballot for a leader like him, and if there are no such leaders, maybe one day aspire to be a leader with his same principles.
As I watched these episodes last night to get inspired for tomorrow's big day, I was able to reflect on the reasons I vote once again, and I couldn't be more excited to vote tomorrow. It is so easy today to get lost in all of the drama of politics. It is easy to get turned off by the "he said/she said," the trash talk, and the uninspiring speeches that drone on about the oppositions flaws vs. the actual issues that impact you. While I have many issues that I am passionate about and many reasons to go vote this year, I find myself getting lost in this as well. Which is probably why this year, more than others, the scene in Two Cathedrals when President Bartlet is talking numbers with Mrs. Landingham in the Oval Office really got to me. The back and forth between them goes like this:
President Bartlet: Give me numbers.
Mrs. Landingham: I don't have numbers; you give me numbers.
President Bartlet: 44 million Americans don't have health insurance.
Mrs. Landingham: What is the #1 cause of death for black men under 35?
President Bartlet: Homicide.
Mrs. Landingham: How many Americans are behind bars?
President Bartlet: 3 Million.
Mrs. Landingham: How many Americans are drug addicts?
President Bartlet: 5 Million.
Mrs. Landingham: 1 in 5 kids are living in poverty, that is 13 Million.
President Bartlet: 3 and a half Million kids go to schools that are literally falling apart. We need $127 Billion in school construction, and we need it today.
All those issues that we faced back in 2000/2001 are still prominent issues that we are voting on this November. Sure, the numbers have probably changed. Yes, gun violence/2nd Amendment rights are probably higher on that list now in light of so many mass shootings. At the end of the day, the issues are the key. That is what struck me watching that scene. I re-watched it three or four times. It is the issues. These numbers haunt you - or they should. Americans deserve a future where they are better tomorrow than they were today. These are numbers that directly impact us daily and are controllable by casting a ballot.
So back to the question at hand... why do I vote?
I vote because I truly feel it is a key part of being an American. It sounds weird, but I honestly feel you pay taxes and you vote, and that is all that is asked from us, on a baseline, to be Americans. Sure, it would be nice if we went above and beyond and helped our communities, gave back to those who needed more than we do, served in our nation's great military... but truly, all that is asked from us by the country that gives us so much is to vote for those who lead us and pay our taxes that pay for the services that the government provides.
That is my practical reason for why I vote. The more emotional reason is that I vote to say thank you to the women who came before me and died for my right to vote. All I have to do tomorrow, as a White, Middle Class, Privileged Woman is to walk one avenue west, three city blocks south and up three flights of stairs to cast my ballot - I don't even have to show an ID. That is it. I am not threatened on my way there. I am not told to go home. I am not beaten when I come out of the polling place or jailed for carrying out my civic duty. I vote to say thank you to the women, and men, who fought, died, served jail time, suffered and sacrificed in so many ways to get me where I am today.
I also vote because I am the daughter of an immigrant. Most of us are sons and daughters of immigrants. That is something we keep losing sight of these days. But I am the daughter of a man who came to this country just months before I was born. Who came from a country with a lot of corruption, people who have little faith in their government, and while the people have great pride in their culture and country, it is a difficult place to survive if you are lower class or of a minority religion. My dad worked hard to give us a life in America. I was afforded opportunities my cousins abroad were not. There is an idea about being American that people in other countries at least used to feel. I vote for people and issues who preserve that ideal. Who want to push the American Dream forward. Who want to make our country a better place.
I vote for many reasons, these are just a few. I hope if you have a reason that gets you out to the polls you share it with your friends and family to inspire them to get out to vote. If you haven't yet found your why, I hope you so soon. There is a lot at stake, not just in this midterm election but all elections. We live in a world that we create and elections are one very sure way we make our voices heard in that creation. Do you want a better country? A better world? Vote.