When I was a teenager, I discovered George Carlin. I credit this discovery as one of the pivotal points in my life. Not only was he hilarious, but he had things to say that made sense to me and answered a few questions I had about life. I soon found myself incorporating some of his comedy into my life philosophy. This has turned out to be a mixed blessing.
One of the bits I really held onto was his views on voting. George didn’t vote, and his reasoning seemed sound. Voting, he mused, was simply a task we plebeians went through every four years so that we felt like we had control. Elections to him were “garbage in, garbage out.” He also made the point that if he didn’t vote, he would not share the blame for electing an official who fucks everything up. This position, he argued, allowed him to complain about the government with a clean conscience and a superior moral stance, unlike those who voted for the corrupt legislator.
I held these beliefs for a very long time. When I was eligible to vote in my first election, which was the 2000 presidential election, I stayed home. I did the same for the ’04 and ’08 elections. However, over the course of the past decade, my stance has softened. I started by saying that I would only vote in local races because they affected me the most. Soon, I realized that that wasn’t much different. So I started saying I’d only vote on local ordinances and propositions, as they would directly affect my life.
Another big reason I did not vote was because over the past 16 years, my political, religious, and personal beliefs have evolved. I can now safely and proudly declare that I am a democratic socialist. But until this election, there has never been anyone who stood for and embodied what I looked for in a political leader.
Then Bernie showed up. I discovered through the website ISideWith.com that Senator Sanders and I share 97% of our political stances. His courage to call himself a democratic socialist resonated with me. The term “socialist” is still a taboo word in America, but Sanders is quickly making people realize that it’s not so bad after all.
I do realize that over the course of his long tenure in Congress, Sanders has made some questionable votes for legislation that I disagree with. He’s said some things that he probably regrets now. But he is human. As much as we would like our leaders to be pure of thought and action, it is not a realistic standard to hold them to, as long as they act reasonably.
There is a split amongst Democrats that voting for Bernie is not as favorable as voting for Hillary Clinton simply because she is female. Sure, we all would love breaking another historical streak by having a female leader, I have my questions about Clinton (and none of them involve her emails). Not voting for her doesn’t make one a sexist the same as voting for Bernie doesn’t make one sexist. Gender doesn’t really matter when it comes to capable leadership. With that said, if Sanders does not get the Democratic nomination, I will be voting for Clinton.
I cast my first presidential vote to re-elect Barack Obama. I felt compelled to, given his opposition. This time, I’m compelled to vote because for once in my life, there is someone running who truly represents my point of view. Regardless of whether its Sanders or Clinton, one thing is for sure: we cannot afford a Republican in the White House.
Originally published at seanfraser.squarespace.com.