Dear Hillary,

I am a “millennial.” I voted. For you.

I went to bed at 10PM tonight, because I was so anxious that my body physically could not stay awake for the election results.

I woke up at 4:32AM to the news that Donald Trump is the next President of the United States.

I am a female, LGBT, person of color. I am in college. I am working class. I am Southern. I am surrounded by people who support Donald Trump.

And still, somehow, it seems unreal.

I’m sure it seems more unreal for you. I’m sure the disappointment is crippling. I’m sure the anger, frustration, and overwhelming sadness is life-ruining. I’m sure you’re wondering how a country can vote based off of fear, and not hope, or progress. I know I am.

I’m sure you know that you will not be able to express your disappointment. That attacks against you do not stop because the election has been won. That being a female politician just became about ten times harder; that being a female American in general just became even more so.

I do not know if this is normal. I do not know if the overwhelming panic and fear that I am experiencing is how Republicans felt when Obama won, or Democrats when Bush did. This is my first time around a presidential election, after all.

I am asking for you to give me hope. You may not have much left right now, and I want you to know I understand that. But you got closer than any woman ever has to being President of the United States. You were willing to be the face of this country. You were willing to lead us. I’m asking you to lead us right now, anyway. Lead us to hope.

This fear is warping my–well, my everything. My desire to be American, for sure. I am asking you to reassure me that these four years are not the end. That complacency will not prevail. That education will reach the working class in a way which sticks.That change will come after Donald Trump.

Give me hope that the change will be good, one day.

I’m begging you.

-HH

P.S- If you haven’t heard/read her concession speech, you definitely should. I begged; she answered.

Geaux Vote

I want to walk you through my experience as a first time voter. I don’t want to persuade you to vote for any individual–rather, I want to talk to you about the voting process because I think my writing it out may be insightful for someone who may be anxious about voting or may not be sure if they plan to.

Registering to Vote

I registered to vote when I was 18. I did it on my phone, laying in bed, and the only time I moved was to ask my roommate to bring me my wallet.

To become a registered voter in my state you must: be a US citizen, be a resident of the state, be 18 by/on the date of the election, cannot be under an order of imprisonment, and cannot be under a judgment of full interdiction or limited interdiction. If you meet all those requirements but do not have a driver’s license or special ID card, you CAN still vote; you just have to print out your registration forms and mail them to the Registrar of Voters where you reside. You will also need your social security number–at LEAST the last four digits. If you do not have any of those three things, you STILL are eligible to vote; just include–when you mail your registration forms–a form of photo identification and any kind of government document which shows your name and place of residence (for example: a utility bill or a bank statement). Personally, I had a driver’s license and I knew my SSN, so I filled everything out online.

Now, when you register in my state, which political party you identify with is actually very important. Being an Independent–or, having no affiliated party–limits you as a citizen in terms of voting. For example, my roommate was unable to vote in the primaries because of her “No Party” identification. I don’t want to discourage you from picking whichever political party (or lack thereof) you feel is most applicable to you. I would, however, encourage you to look up the laws in your state surrounding how you can vote as an Independent.

Before I Voted

I don’t know if it’s common to have these, but there’s a nifty little app here that tells me everything. The home page of said app allows me to access:

  • polling locations (for early voting and election day voting)
  • a sample ballot
  • information about my district
  • current elected officials
  • ways to contact my registrar(s) of voters
  • my personal voter information
  • an option to receive reminders about early voting and election days
  • election results (by item being voted on AND location)

I used this app’s sample ballot to see what I would be voting on before I went in–for me, it included the Presidential election, a Senator, a U.S. Representative, and six constitutional amendments.

While I think voting on federal government elections is extremely important, I think what a lot of people forget is that “down ballot” voting–or, voting for local government officials/decisions–is extremely important as well, possibly even more so. I say that because what decisions my elected state officials will make are far more likely to affect me directly and, sometimes, immediately.

So instead of voting just for the presidential election, I voted for everything. And I didn’t go in blind, either. I used the sample ballot as a basis for who or what I did research on. Each position listed the candidates running for said position and their political affiliation; unless I already knew who I wanted to vote for, I looked for the people affiliated with the same party as me, and voted for whomever I thought was best for the position. I looked up breakdowns of each constitutional amendment from local news sources I trust, and made my decisions. I based some decisions off of how it would directly affect me; I based others off of how I thought it would affect the state as a whole.

Going Vote

I chose to early vote. The line was long. It was hot outside. It was 2PM and I had not eaten a single thing all day. I almost forgot my wallet in my car. Parking was awful. The first person I talked to when I got inside announced to the room that I was  First Time Voter. Considering I was wearing a “2015 High School graduate” t-shirt and patterned leggings, I don’t really know why he was surprised. But, I digress.

The woman who helped me was kind, checked on me twice, and walked me through every step. I didn’t feel judged, or unwelcome. I did my civic duty, grabbed a sticker, and walked out. And I didn’t expect to feel good about voting, but I did.

The process leading up to voting is daunting. It feels time consuming and like it’s not worth much. But it is worth something. Your vote does matter; to suggest otherwise is just an excuse for your laziness or unwillingness to educate yourself.

Some helpful resources when going through the voting process are How to Vote on YouTube and, hopefully, the website for the secretary of state in your state. Happy Voting, my dudes.

-Happy Halloween, Hurricane Hope

Nineteen and Voting

If the primaries had ended differently, there would be no question about where my vote would go this November. But they ended how they ended, and now I have a lot to think about. After all, this is the first major election I’m able to vote in.

I’m only nineteen years old. I’ve never filed income taxes; I’ve never paid for health insurance; I don’t pay my car note, or even my phone bill. I don’t mean to say this to give in to this stereotype of “Millenials” as lazy and underachieving, because I’m not. I’m paying for my higher education, I work during school breaks but not during the school year because I prioritize my academics–which I do very well (with a 3.75 grade point average) and I’m pursuing a career that, although not lucrative, will sustain me and make me happy. I’m responsible and educated.

My point is that I haven’t lived a lot. I wasn’t alive for the Gulf War; I was five when the US invaded Iraq. I don’t remember when the Twin Towers fell. I was eleven when the stock market crashed. It means I don’t tend to see these events in an emotional light, but rather in an objective one. I see them in the same way a student sees any historical event they’re taught about in class–i.e. here is what happened, here is why it happened, and here are its effects.

A major historical event that has shaped our country’s entire path since it happened? Bipartisanship. Just as George Washington was making his speech about how doing the thing was not a good idea, America…Well, America was doing the thing.

I’m Southern, which means I’m supposed to be Conservative. I’m also female, young, and Mexican, which means I’m…not. But that doesn’t mean my views align with the deemed “Left” party of the United States, or that my vote is guaranteed one way. Why? Because Democrats aren’t the only Leftists on the ballot. Jill Stein is a completely legitimate and far more left candidate. Conversely, Republicans aren’t the only Rightists on the ballot; Gary Johnson will represent the Libertarian party.

Then comes the question; is your vote really worth anything if you vote outside of the bipartisan system? Can a system really be effective when its two parties are closer to moderate than any other candidate on the ballot? If I don’t agree with any candidate’s views 100% how do I know which one is for me? How can anything be effectively done when our political system was designed to make it almost impossible to create change unless there’s an overwhelming majority of a single party in power? How can we expect any party to come into power when political divides become starker after every debate?

I’ve been thinking about effective democracy because we just finished talking about Athenian democracy in my history course. I liked Athenian democracy because it didn’t care about political affiliation. Athenian democracy considered every man’s opinion on every topic and worked under majority rule. While I understand Athenian democracy is impractical given the size of our country, it sounds like a refreshing change compared to electing whichever candidate you disagree with less.

Regardless of who you vote for, it’s your civic duty to step up and be a part of the change our country is in need of. Voting can be confusing, but that’s what Hank Green is for. Find the video for your state and take some time out of your day to be an active part of our country’s future.

-HH