Why I don’t vote


I turned 18 in mid-October, and my ascent into adulthood has been bombarded by the fast-approaching 2020 election. My friends and family members have begged me to register to vote, but every time I’ve had to remind them that I will not be voting because of my religion. In this climate, the judgmental looks I get are far from scarce, but I stand firm by my opinions. 

Right now, it seems like every topic has been turned into a political issue. Democrats and Republicans disagree over how to deal with issues regarding the coronavirus pandemic, social justice and climate change. Even celebrities are taking the time to make sure their voices are heard, and I witness their testimonies on social media every day. 

I don’t think that governments are inherently bad or that voting shouldn’t exist. It’s true that this country runs on elections like this. I simply choose to remain politically neutral. I know I can’t vote, and I don’t want to. I may not know much about politics, but I don’t think I’m worse off because of it. 

My position, religiously, is to remain neutral on topics that pertain to worldly customs. Since that is the case, I also don’t participate in the Pledge of Allegiance, saluting flags, singing the national anthem, running for any sort of elective office or going to protests. I have an opinion just like everyone else, but I choose to keep it private. 

I feel like I wake up every day in political warfare. The whole situation is very soap opera-esque in my opinion. We have a show that’s gone on for far too many seasons. The fans stay invested because they can’t really remember a time in their lives before the show. Trump coming into office in the first place was the shocking turn of events the writers needed to pull in more viewers, and it definitely worked. I don’t fully understand what’s going on half the time, but I still know that his presence is incredibly polarizing. I imagine Joe Biden is the character you thought died, but now he’s come back and viewers have no idea how. Everyone spends the season trying to figure out who they love and who they hate, but no one can turn away from the screen regardless. 

It’s hard to stay away from political customs, especially at school. Classmates used to stare at me when I’d stand during the pledge but not put my hand over my heart and recite it. One day in elementary school, a substitute teacher walked over to put my hand over my heart for me, and she didn’t move until I said the pledge. I wasn’t sure how to defend myself, so it was the first and only time I did that.

My elementary school also required memorization tests for the National Anthem. It took a letter from my parents and a parent-teacher conference  to get my teacher to agree that I simply couldn’t recite the song. 

In middle school, my school held a 2016 mock presidential election. I appreciated my teacher’s desire to educate students on the process of electing a president because it’s important to understand how one’s own country operates. However, my teachers also encouraged peer pressure as a form of getting students to turn in their votes. 

I’ve always had a hard time understanding why school has normalized participation like this from students. As classrooms get more diverse and fill up with students of different cultures and religions, it seems like teachers are going to need more patience for the young children who don’t participate in the political norm. 

I know that choosing to stay out of politics can be a problematic statement, so I want to clarify that my choice doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the various environmental and social movements that dominate our world today. My respect goes to those courageous enough to advocate for their rights and those of others. 

My position on neutrality actually encourages respect for everyone. I won’t be the person to oppose the beliefs of another. Whenever confronted with an idea I don’t agree with, my first thought is to recognize that I need to handle it peacefully. 

Much like a soap opera, politics are easy to get sucked into, and sometimes things get messy. Remember that whichever character you’re rooting for is still part of a greater cast, and unexpected things happen all the time. I’ll definitely be tuning in for next week’s episode eager to see how things turn out.