Today I will not vote. I didn't vote early or by absentee ballot either. I am 29 years old and have never voted. Worst of all, I can't explain why.
I'm not a political junkie, but I'm certainly not apathetic or undecided. My blood boiled when Mitt Romney made a joke of climate change during his acceptance speech at the RNC in Tampa. Paul Ryan scares me. The potential of an all-out assault on reproductive health is appalling. I fret constantly over how these guys will approach foreign policy, particularly Iran.
I grew up in New York (Bush-Gore) and then lived in Massachusetts (Bush-Kerry) and Illinois (Obama-McCain). It was easy to convince myself that my vote didn't matter, that the Dems had those states on lock.
But this year, living in a swing state for the first time, I deeply regret not registering and not voting. It's pathetic, I know.
When friends and coworkers ask why, I tell them I simply don't care. This is a lie, though.
When people yell at me and proclaim that I should be forced to vote, I counter by arguing that it's as much my right to vote as it is not to vote. I never feel good using this line of reasoning to shut down the argument. It's cheap.
Deeply partisan people have insisted that I go vote for their candidate. Others have told me to go write someone in, whether it be Tommy Chong or Darth Vader, just to participate.
I thought my best friend since first grade -- whose political ideology is opposite of mine -- might get it. He didn't. He told me that not voting was weak and that I should cast my ballot for Gary Johnson.
One coworker even went so far as to print out the voter registration paperwork, helped me fill it in, and mail it. Unfortunately, I don't have a Florida license or a Florida Identification Card. We still tried, using my address and social security number. At the end of October, I got a letter from the Miami-Dade Elections Department saying that the validity of my social security number could not be confirmed. It said something about a provisional ballot, but I tossed the letter in the garbage, not wanting to do anymore legwork.
So maybe it's laziness that's keeping me from voting. If so, that's more pathetic than apathy. But I'm fairly certain that I'm not lazy.
Or maybe, as one coworker suggested, I'm too privileged to understand the importance of voting. I'm a young, white, heterosexual male with a master's degree. But I'm also drowning in student debt and medical bills -- issues that I know will likely be easier to deal with and avoid in the future if Obama is in office.
On Monday night, I called my father, a retired New York Police officer, who I assume has voted Republican his entire life. He let out a guttural sigh of disappointment when I told him I wouldn't be voting. He called me a "hump" and then started talking about the sacrifices my grandfather made in WWII. It's corny, my dad admitted, but I shouldn't write it off.
Now, hours before our new leader will be selected, I'm anxious. I tell myself that things will be the same no matter who's in office, another lie to keep my mind at ease.
This year is a wash for me. I'm banking on like-minded but far more responsible neighbors stepping up to the plate.
No matter what happens, I've finally learned my lesson, I think. It's embarrassing it has taken this long. But come 2016, I'll be registered and in line. And, hopefully, feeling a tad less anxious about where we're all heading.