Some Thoughts On Yesterday's Election

Some Thoughts On Yesterday's Election

Here’s an essay from Proyecto Latina contributor Coya Paz. This essay, of course, reflects her own opinions, which we as a collective may or may not share.

***

Yesterday, I voted.

It was the first time in a long time, maybe even my whole voting life, that I really –really-didn’t want to.

I just wasn’t in the mood.

The night before, I spent four hours in the emergency room with my two-year old daughter, who was having an asthma attack. I finally rolled in to bed at 6:00 in the morning, slept for two hours, and then got up for a full day of meetings, deadlines, and a crabby little kid too sick to go to daycare.

My partner and I took turns hanging out with her, juggling our meetings and phone calls and trying to balance laptops, baby, and the coffee while perched in the one little corner of our apartment hat actually gets the wireless signal we pay $60 a month for.

So yeah… I was tired, crabby, busy, and I did not want to go to the polls.

And anyway, it’s hard to be enthusiastic about electoral politics in Illinois. We’ve been a blue state forever and though I’ve voted Democratic in every election since I turned 18, I wasn’t excited about any of the candidates. Pat Quinn – eh? He seems alright in that “neighbor who I wave to but can’t remember his name” kind of way. Giannoulis – I’m not buying his bank story. Joe Berrios – I like to vote for Latinos whenever I can but something about him made unsure I wanted to trust my county tax assessments for him. And the water reclamation committee? Honestly, I don’t even know what that means.

But when I thought about staying home, I got a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

What if this turned out to be one of those elections that comes down to 1% of the vote? What if they said, if only two more people had voted, we might have called this another way? What if I spent the next two years feeling guilty that a Tea Party sympathizer was in Congress just because I wanted to stay home and drink more coffee?

But really, I knew I was just being an exaggerada with all of those scenarios.

What got me on a bus and over to the polling place was a vision I had two years ago, when I waddled over to the field house 8 months pregnant to stand in line with dozens of excited voters who were laughing, clapping, and ready. I put my hand on my belly, smiled at my partner, and vowed this would be a family tradition. I want my daughter to grow up believing that voting is an important ritual, something we do because we can, because people fought for the right to do so against terrible odds. And I want my daughter to grow up believing that voting is something we also do because many in our community can’t – still disenfranchised by corrupt immigration policies, prison policies, or the machinations of our home countries— many are counting on us to know that even small, seem-like-they-don’t-matter policies make a difference is somebody’s life.

Sure enough, I bundled her up in a wrap and took her with me to vote in the primaries, and yesterday I stumbled into the polling place, clutching a giant cup of coffee in one hand and her little hand in my other. While I puzzled through long lists of judges, she ran between me and my partner, pulling at our pant legs and begging to “help” with filling out the ballot. She smiled and laughed and conned the election monitors into giving her pizza, cake, and a donut. When we left, she waved; they waved; and we waved – feeling for a moment like a part of something bigger than our everyday.

And you know what, we are.

It turns out this is an election that in many states, including our own, comes down to a few votes. And this is an election, overwhelmingly, that does not bode well for immigrants or queers – so as a queer multiracial/multinational family, I’m trying not to think too hard about what will come up for a senate vote in the next few years.

Instead, I’m looking beyond the ballot, remembering that voting is just the beginning of being actively engaged in politics, in change. The rest is up to us, everyday, all of the time. And I’m hoping, not for change from on high, but here down low, rooting for a recommitment to political action. But above all, I’m working hard to raise a child who believes she has a right to participate in politics, to agitate as needed, and to campaign when she wants to: for a donut, for a ballot pen, who knows… maybe even for office, someday.

4 Responses to “Some Thoughts On Yesterday's Election”

  1. Linda says:

    Thank you for voting Coya. We do need to exercise this right in each and every election because so many people fought and died for us to have that protected right.

  2. Tanya Saracho says:

    So well written. Beautiful blog!

  3. I’m so glad you decided to vote!

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