My Vote Used to Change the World: A Tarheel Gen-Xer’s Voting Narrative
Like every other Gen-Xer who grew up in North Carolina, I earned my voting cred under the polarized state of Jesse Helms. Regardless of whether I supported or opposed him, growing up in that political chaos instilled a passion for believing in a candidate, in a party, and in the system, itself.
Elections were huge social affairs, and everyone I knew, myself included, was intensely engaged, from the first debate to the final count. We talked openly about political platforms over lunch. We watched the news every night, read campaign updates in the paper every day. We researched, we became inspired, we voted.
It mattered. Even if my candidate didn’t win, the final tally instilled in me clarity for what my role in supporting my community could be, on how I could facilitate interjecting diverse narratives deeper into community discourse.
The last two decades of elections have changed all of that. Dominated by corporate manipulation and back scratching across party lines, at local, state, and national levels I’ve become very disenchanted, as have many, with the political arena. Emphasis has shifted from community needs to career politicians and privatized agendas. Political inertia is the only outcome we’ve seen for years.
While this is extremely difficult for me to acknowledge, as a result, I feel no passion for candidates–for or against. No party represents my viewpoint. The system doesn’t even seem to work with accuracy or integrity. And the outcome of recent elections? I just watch our state spiral deeper into debt, unemployment, and depression.
I want to be inspired by candidates, especially at a local level. I don’t need a party to stand with–I’m comfortable being Independent–but I need a solid candidate. I need a muse, with solid intentions and sound plans to create beneficial outcomes.
That’s where my interest in the voting process starts. That’s the one facet that makes this whole mess humanized and relatable, and leaves me thinking I have a voice.
Today I went to the polls in Fuquay-Varina, and I voted. Not one name on that paper inspired me, and I wonder if that’s just how it’s going to be. We’re watching our economic and political systems break on all levels, and maybe this disenchantment is part of that.
Maybe in order for the systems to be rebuilt, I have to stop believing in the way they used to work. I have to stop searching for inspiring candidates, and educate myself on how to influence the system to attract them.