First-time Voter

(in a Presidential race.  I voted in the primaries).

November 8 

Though I was blissfully unaware of the nightmare ahead, I was emotional long before I got to the polls.

It’s because my hometown, humble Rochester, had a small moment in the spotlight.  As the burial place of Susan B. Anthony, pictures of this charming gesture filled my Facebook feed:


I felt so moved.  And for the first time ever…I missed home.  I had missed friends, restaurants, and stores, of course…but for the first time, I felt a strong yearning for the physical place and its culture.  I think it’s time for me to go back, soon. 20161109_210332000_ios

But my vote counted more here, in Philadelphia.  I had switched my registration specifically for that reason.  So I waited in line for the polls around 3:00.  I was very pleased with Philly’s fancy voting machines — and with my sticker.

I had a Bio midterm the next day, so I buckled down to study ribosomes and operons for the next few hours.  Until the results really started to roll in.  After that — after Pennsylvania started flipping, I couldn’t possibly focus.

This morning, I laid in bed with my sky-blue Clinton/Kaine poster hung above me.  The midterm was postponed.  Too many upset and sleep-deprived students had emailed my professor.  My stomach felt cold and dense.

Last night, when I was staring at a reddening map of the United States on a TV screen, the crowd of young watchers around me expressed disgustp.  I didn’t feel disgust; instead, I felt like I was the fool.  I had been so stupidly-naive about the state of the nation.  I had assumed that we could come to a general consensus about one candidate.  I thought the choice was obvious.  But our nation could not do that last night.  We are deeply divided in the most toxic and damaged way.  I knew that the opposing opinion existed, but it was as if I didn’t see how wide the chasm was until last night.  Or how many people were shouting from the other side.

It was disturbing to realize that my country is polarized to the point that I can’t even begin to comprehend the other side.  Even if Hillary had won, I think I still would have been upset by it.  Because victory would only be a faint silver lining to the visual evidence that when one half of the country is cheering, the other is in pain.

As I am in pain now.  I was so ready for this nightmare to be over.  I of course did not think that the election of Hillary would solve everything, but I was ready to have the nonsense election rhetoric recede, to never have to hear about Donald Trump tweeting something offensive again.  Instead, I’m dreading another four years of an atmosphere I resented so much.

And I don’t consider myself a political person.  There are only a handful of social issues I care deeply about.  That’s why I don’t proudly proclaim myself as a “Democrat,” despite my liberal leanings.  However, while watching the horrifying results roll in yesterday, it dawned on me that I had envisioned my future in a more progressive world.

It’s hard to explain, since I don’t even have that many plans.  But I had expected my younger peers to have a lighter burden for college.  I had anticipated a resolution on racial issues like police brutality and immigration.  I had imagined my girlfriends back home with careers and husbands and wives.  Most of all (perhaps selfishly), last night I realized that my visions for the future depended on the assumption that it would be easier to be a woman.  As an eighteen-year-old girl, I don’t have many troubles now, but I never questioned that I would not have access to certain health services or options.  I even had a romantic dream of me having kids as a single mom from a sperm donor — because I would have enough money and time off.

I aim to be as responsible and as healthy as I can in the upcoming years.  But for the first time, I am afraid for my gender.  I do not want to grow up into a woman in this new American era.

Many fellow liberals are flocking to social media to encourage positivity and resilience.  I find that difficult to relate with right now.  As a Pennsylvanian voter whose ballot was drowned out by suburban/rural voices, I feel unheeded and ignored.  The electoral college seemed sensible to me in school, but in its shadow, I’m frustrated and demoralized.  I just think the damage made in the Senate, House, and Presidency is irreversible at this point.

So much for my first voting experience.



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