In government class, I learned that the most influential factor on young, developing political views are a person's family. I understood that; when my mind was still malleable and easily impressionable, I always assumed that whatever political stance my family took was the right one. I paid attention to the countdown to when President Obama left office my grandfather kept on his kitchen counter, and I listened to my dad curse the name of any Democrat mentioned in the news. As a teenage girl just coming into herself and her world views, I assumed they were right. They were, after all, my family and people I looked up to.
I got older, and I made more of an effort to keep up with politics. I took harder economics and government classes to further my understanding of the world around me. I began to realize that the Republican party's platform was in direct conflict with my own values, which in turn meant that I was the "ugly duckling" of the family. My family kept talking to me about issues like they expected me to agree, and as much as I wanted to participate in the conversation, I was outnumbered and afraid.
When the next election cycle rolled around, I was secure enough in my ideals to make an informed choice of who I supported, even though I couldn't vote. I always loved moderate Republican John Kasich, but I began losing faith in the party as Donald Trump began gaining offensive momentum. I paid more attention to Hillary Clinton. Her diplomacy, drive, and campaign platform were all facets of her that I loved. I had faith in her. I believed the New York Times when they predicted her landslide victory, and, since I was too young to vote, I remained confident that my country would make the right choice. Americans wanted a president with an aura of authority and diplomacy, as well as experience, right? Wrong.
I watched the Election Day coverage dilligently. As more and more states turned red, the further my stomach dropped. I felt like each red state was filled with my own blood, a personal attack on me as a woman and basic human rights. Vulgar things were said to girls at my school the next day. I came home and cried, not understanding how Americans could do this to their fellow Americans. As the Republican party plowed ahead with the travel ban, the reinstatement of the international gag rule, and overhauling health care to defund Planned Parenthood while stripping Americans of coverage, I knew what I was. I knew what I had to be. I was a Democrat in a family of Republicans. I want Americans to have healthcare, I want Planned Parenthood to keep operating, and I want women to have a say in what happens to their bodies. I definitely want public education to be stable and not in the hands of a bear-fearing rich lady. Sure, I don't always entirely agree with the Democratic ideology. I don't think the rich should be taxed 90%. I think our borders should be protected and that people should enter the country legally. However, I know that this is the party for me, despite what my family chooses to be.
I don't live in fear of expressing my opinion anymore. I watch the news with my dad and openly express my distaste at the actions of Washington, and there is a mutual respect between us. My dad actually hyped me up to vote against Trump in the next election. Bipartisanship is everywhere, even at home, but that doesn't mean it has to be bitter or vicious. We are still one united nation at the end of the day.