Your Friendly Neighborhood Chicana is back, friends, fresh from voting in her first presidential election.
I'll say it: it was not as exciting as I thought it was going to be. I strolled into my campus's polling center at 6:51 and walked out at 7:16 and went home. With a late October birthday, I've only been able to vote once before in my life, and this November 3 was really no different.
The last time I voted, though, I remember being so excited and feeling so proud of myself. I felt like I had really fought for the right to vote. I know that sounds dramatic, but the voter registration system in Ohio does not like accent marks or hyphens, and guess what my last name has? You guessed it: an accent mark and a hyphen. This led to a lovely year-long spat with the state of Ohio over whether or not I was registered to vote. (Spoilers: I was registered, but the state kindly told me "no ❤️".)
I nearly didn't vote my freshman year because I thought I wasn't allowed. This year I was pleased that no new issues had come up for me, but it got me thinking. Sure, for me, fighting for my right to vote looked like a lot of angry phone calls to every Ohio government phone number I could find, but that fight looked a lot different for my parents.
This is the second presidential election that my parents have been able to vote in, as they became citizens just in time for the 2016 election. Granted, the choices weren't good, but they were both so excited. Politics was never really discussed in my house growing up, and I never really gave it much thought. I just figured my parents didn't want to argue like so many of my friends' parents did. We talk about politics all the time now, and it hit me only recently as to why that is. My parents are so invested in the politics of this country now because now they actually get a say. Their voices count.
As I've grown up, I realize that one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was my being born in this country. I am so proud of them and of how much they have done to be where they are now. I know people say to vote for the future, and I do. But I also vote for my parents. I vote to make them proud and to show them how grateful I am to them.
So on this first presidential election of mine, I thought not only of the future but of the past. My parents came to think country for its opportunities and possibilities. Even as bad as things get sometimes, my father still clings to this idea of the American dream, where everything is possible if you work for it. I know that's what they want for me and my siblings. And that's what I vote for, and why I vote. I want that dream my parents have for us to mean something. I don't want their sacrifices to have been made in vain.
So for my first presidential election, this one is for you guys. Gracias por todo.