By Gino Diguilio
America is awesome. Yes, you hear it all the time, and the idea of a nation that is great enough to allow its citizens to openly engage in politics is pretty cool to me. One of my biggest role models, Leslie Knope — regardless of the fact that she is completely fictional and charmingly psychotic — once said, “America’s awesome. It’s so full of hope, and small towns, and big cities, and real people and delicious beverages …” There was more to that quote, but sometimes less is more.
The reason I came to the conclusion of how awesome America is derives from what I experienced yesterday.
Yesterday, I voted. I expressed my constitutional right to have my voice heard by the government. It was beyond doubt, a great thing to experience for the first time. Unfortunately, my high was only short lived when talking to friends, colleagues and family members shortly after and throughout the day.
Finding out that many people, including close friends, simply didn’t vote because they didn’t understand the issues, or they felt that their vote doesn’t really count, was heart breaking. Like that moment when you drop your phone face down on asphalt and you know it’s shattered. My heart is metaphorically that phone.
Too much? Nah.
What has our government done to make their own citizens feel so minute in the grand scheme of things that they simply just don’t vote? Is it the crazy and elaborate writings of the new laws that are aimed to confuse, stump and demoralize the public? Or is it the pressure of the radical or outlandish, and sometimes harsh, protesters sitting outside of a polling station to make you feel one of two things: good that you were on their side, or out casted because you have differing views?
Personally, I believe it is a mixture of both.
I drove past multiple polling stations while on my way to my designated station. At more than half I witnessed citizens waving handmade signs protesting certain new laws that were on the ballot. Yes, they are caring individuals and their opinions matter just as much as everyone else’s.
To be frank, if I had to journey past those groups, knowing that I was voting the opposite of them, I would be caught in a whirlwind of emotions ranging from small forms of anxiety to rage. There’s a time and place for both, but neither should be present while voting publicly.
This brings me to the wording of laws and issues. I did my research on every topic, person or issue that was on the ballot this election cycle. I wanted to be informed and I wanted my vote to be accurate.
It’s not that hard to Google something for a few minutes and make a decision. Get it together, people. Read up on your issues and don’t let the big wordy paragraphs describing what the law entails distract you. It is your job and solely up to you to educate yourself before expressing your opinion through votes.
To bring everything to a glorious and grand closure, I bring you another quote by the infamous Leslie Knope, “What I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring really loudly at me.”
This is perfect to me. Everyone has beliefs and views, but there is no reason to scream and yell or even care loudly at anyone. We are all part of this awesome country and have the ability to change the nation or even our local community with the power of our vote.
Educate yourself. Stick to your guns. And always remember, America is awesome.