I am not voting....
There I said it. I have heard the primed and often repeated response from several people that if a person doesn't vote, they have no right to bitch about who wins or what happens. I humbly, disagree.
As a human being living on this planet, I can bitch about pretty much anything I want to. Emphatically and without permission. If the warm weather turns cold, I can bitch about it. If the laundry piles up right after I have washed and folded it and put it away, I can bitch about it and throw a hissy fit if deemed necessary. If the one of my lovely cats eats too much canned cat food and lets out silent but deadly plumes of acrid air as a thank you gift, I can certainly bitch about that too. None of those things are things that I have any control over nor are any of those things off topic for me to complain about simply because I did not go all the way in to town, by flagging down a ride, standing in a long line of people that I don't really want to stand next to, and filling out a tiny little box on some kind of new wave voting machine..... They just happened. Without my say so or my input. Much like this election.
Now, I am sure some people are going to question why I am not voting and some people may even get huffy about it. I don't really care if they do, their perception of me is none of my business. I will, however explain why I am not now nor have I ever voted.
I am repeatedly assaulted with the same old regurgitation that not voting means that I can not "change the world" and that to do my duty as a true American I need to stand by my representatives......but these people don't represent me. They don't even know I exist.
I am a thirty six year old woman with a mental illness.
I could say that I don't go to the polling place because of my anxiety. That is somewhat true but not the complete reason why I avoid voting. I could summarize the hardships of not being able to drive and toting two children with me to the bad part of town all by myself, filled with said anxiety, trying to find a way to get there in some one else's vehicle. I could try and muster up some money, I don't really have to spare, on a taxi because contrary to some people's beliefs not all jobs allow you to take off to vote and my husband has one of those kinds of jobs where he is needed because people would absolutely freak out if he wasn't there to help them. I could, but I am not going to. It would be pointless.
You see, the problem isn't just the hardship of mobility or the extreme anxiety I would suffer just so some patriotic vote pushers could rest easier tonight on the absurd notion that my personal vote counts for something.
The problem is that my vote means nothing. My vote is irrelevant. The people that I am asked to vote for do not see me. They see a number. They see a chad or a check mark or whatever they use to tally votes now a days. What they don't see is the individual. The human being with mental illness.
No, my vote doesn't really count because the candidates don't care about mental illness. If they did they would talk about mental illness in a constructive way, not just a political jargon to please the masses. They would have put their money where their mouth is and would have been in the trenches fighting for us, our healthcare, our representation. They would be trying to fix this completely broken down mental health care system that has failed us time and time again.....It is obvious to me that they either are not bothered by it or don't care enough to look at it in detail because if they did, they would do something to change it.
It is clear to me that my vote imperceptible because, for all intensive purposes, I am invisible to them.
Look at the ads and tell me where just one of these candidates has talked about changing the false perception of mentally ill people? Show me their detailed plans on how they suggest we fix the problem of lack of hospital beds, lack of housing, lack of funding and facilities, and lack of compassion. Tell me when they have brought up the few and far between programs that help the police deal with us in a constructive and non violent way. Show me where we are treated as the equally important individuals that we are. Show me where they have spent anytime discussing how they would change the system that has been said to have 64% of all persons in jail, 56% of all people in state prisons, and 45% of all people incarcerated in federal prisons suffering from mental illness symptoms. Show me the ads they have played that showed how they supported our causes and spotlighted our support groups. Show me where any of them, just once, talked about how suicide is the 10th leading cause of death of all age groups in America. Where is their campaign ad showing their outrage about that? What about the unacceptability that 22 veterans of this country kill themselves everyday? Where is the disgust that not enough is being done to help with PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression? Prove to me where they stood up for us and discussed our plight without the description or implication that we are somehow dangerous or criminal or less than everyone else. Show me the advocacy for the one in five American adults that will experience mental illness each year. Can you do that?
No, I didn't think so.
So, no I am not voting. Not just because my vote doesn't really matter to them but because my vote matters very much to me. Up until the time I see a candidate raise our cause and fight for us, I refuse to raise my ass off this couch and make the effort to go downtown and deal with the anxiety of my very real mental illness, that is unequivocally unimportant and invisible to them, and place my vote. I will not vote for someone who would not vote to help our situation and give our system the funding it needs to save the lives of other people that are just like us. I will not stand behind anyone who will not stand behind us and make it an essential part of their campaign to help the mental illness community with it's needs, it's under staffing, it's under funding, it's stigmatization, and it's misplaced shame. I refuse to do it.
I am positive that they will not miss my vote as they have not missed my vote in the eighteen years I have been eligible to vote and yet have remained silent. I am sure that they didn't even see that it was missing. That is okay, I am not bothered that my lack of voting is mind boggling to some people and my reasons are ignored by others. I and the other people that suffer from mental illness go unheard by the media and the people voted into office every day. This day is no different.
I do not need to have permission to be disappointed in my candidates. I do not have to apologize for standing up for what I believe in by not voting and I do not have to accept being put down, bullied, and shamed because I chose stick by those beliefs.
The silence of my refusal to vote says more to me than me making some half-assed vote for someone that I am constantly told represents me. My refusal to vote is saying, if I don't matter to you than your election, that clearly has nothing to do with me in the first place, doesn't matter to me either.
If these people were really my representatives, and really represented all of us, I wouldn't have to resort to refusing my vote, which may be the biggest tragedy of the whole process, in my opinion.
I am not asking everyone else to not vote, I am simply explaining why I choose not to.
.......... and I boldly retain the right to bitch about that for as long I want too........