Monday, February 23, 2009

Rationalizing the Democratic Primaries

  I did not decided who I was going to vote for in the democratic primary election until I got into the voting booth.  I researched both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama thoroughly, comparing their stances on many issues, ranging from education to the environment, to the war on terror.  However, when I prioritized my views, it all came down to classic women's issue, such as abortion, equal pay for men and women, and gay marriage.
  Both Obama and Clinton both supported me views, and as I realized that all other issue paled in comparison to these, I felt both ashamed and confused.  I was ashamed because I knew that there were many other issues that these two candidates differed on that were very important for the whole country as well as the rest of the world and confused because I still had no idea which candidate I preferred.
I worked as a poll worker during the 2007 and 2008 elections, so I was very closely tied them, having experienced them from both sides.     Photo: http://www.pollingplaceproject.org/
While I was not present during the presidential election because I was here at school, I spoke to my mother about her experience late that November night.  She told me that when we opened our garage to allow voting to begin at seven, there was already a line forming down our street.  We were not alone as this was a trend all around the country.  
Being a poll worker has given me a new perspective on elections.  I remember during the primaries, watching people come into my garage to vote.  Some looked self-assured, others mirrored my own confusion, but everyone appeared to understand the implications of their decisions.  Knowing that there were others who had feelings that were just as confused and muddled as my own were gave me a feeling of unity.  Before then, I never felt, and for the most part, still do not feel that democracy is unifying, as I imagine it ought to be, but in that moment, I was proud to be an American.
Perhaps that was what stirred the memory that decided the election for me.  As I entered the voting booth, I was stuck by childhood dream.  As a child, I wanted to either be a veterinarian or the first woman president.  Deep in the throes of college applications, I knew I was already following one of those dreams and politics was not involved.  Perhaps it was the stigma of being able to see both of my dreams achieved, I took my "special" ballot marking pen and drew a line connecting the arrow next to Hillary Rodham Clinton's name and did not look back on my decision.  
I was not upset when Obama won the nomination and I eagerly voted for him in the November election from my dorm room, and was ecstatic when he won later that night. 
Looking back on it, I did not have a large preference between Obama and Clinton, and my decision came down to a childhood wish.  Would I be hypocritical and judge other people for making decisions for similar reasons? Yes.  Do I feel that this decision was rash? Probably.  Do I regret my decision? Not at all.

1 comment:

Musiclover14 said...

To start, I loved your post; it was very interesting to read and it was well-written. My birthday is on February 7, meaning that I missed the cut off for voting in the primaries by two days. I was upset about this because I had been keeping up with this election, at least far more than I had the others. I felt knowledgeable and I finally felt like I had the right to take part in the democratic process and vote.
My US Government teacher had been "making" the class watch a news show, so my friends and I chose "Face the Nation." Now, two of my fellow "Face the Nation" viewers were boys, and they were constantly making remarks about Hillary Clinton. Surprisingly, I did not pay much attention to it, and, because almost all of my school was for Obama, I turned against Hillary myself. It wasn't really that I was against her views, though I did agree with more of Obama's; it was mainly that my peers disliked her. No one really gave her the time of day, and to this day I'm not sure if that was because she was a woman or because I live in a very liberal place and seeing a relatively young, African American man running for President was more exciting to us. It was suggested during the election that Obama was "all talk, no action." Maybe my peers were attracted to him because of his inspiring speeches; I know I felt a connection with him on some level because of his presence.
Anyway, I think it's fascinating that I would not have voted for Hillary, even though I'm a woman and I'm all for "women-power." I suppose it isn't that hard to become absorbed in what other people believe and think.