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OPINION: The only vote that matters

Joe Terrell: How my first vote changed my outlook

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 18:11

I parted the curtain and stepped into a voting booth at the Brazos County Courthouse on Friday. Forty-five seconds later, I stepped out, heart hammering in my chest. As I exited, one of the polling volunteers slapped a cheap “I Voted” sticker onto my shirt, unaware of the intense personal drama that had just transpired within the confines of the voting booth.

It was my first time to vote.

While the mechanics seemed routine, what occurred in that voting booth was anything but.

As I spun the click wheel on the electronic voting machine, I experienced a radical collision between my ideals, upbringing, faith, values and common sense. I made my selections and stared at the backlit screen.

“SUBMIT Y/N” read the monitor display.

Seconds before, I had known without a shadow of a doubt whose name would grace the top of my ballot. Now I wasn’t so sure. In fact, I had no idea what I was doing.

Coming from a small East Texas town, I should easily fall into the ‘straight ballot’ demographic.

Voting forced me to finally grapple with a number of personal issues I had left unattended for far too long. My vote may mean nothing in the grand scheme of the election, but the inner turmoil I experienced in the weeks prior to stepping into that Brazos County Courthouse gave me the chance to distinguish myself from the politics and faith of my friends and family.

It doesn’t necessarily mean I voted contrary to my upbringing, just that I cast my ballot on my own terms, based on my own experience and opinions.

My faith is a vital part of my life, but the baffling political rhetoric I heard from the pulpit often confused me. Let’s be real, if Jesus was walking the Earth today, he probably wouldn’t even have voted.

I know that a country that spends exponentially more on its military than education programs is bound to collapse on itself.

I believe that abortion is morally wrong, but I also know that refusing funding to Planned Parenthood, an organization that seeks to educate the public about sexual health in order to decrease the amount of situations in which an abortion might be performed, is also wrong.

I know that regardless if the U.S. government recognizes homosexual marriage, it’s not going to affect the sanctity of my marriage with my
future wife, but I do believe that marriage was originally designed for a man and woman.

As a graduating senior, I view our downtrodden economy and struggling job market with trepidation. But I know it’s unfair to critique the current state of our debt without taking into account the decisions made in previous terms.

I know there’s no system our government can design to support the financial burden, but I believe that everyone should have access to healthcare, regardless of economic status.

I know that the problems with American politics today is that instead of voting for a candidate we agree with, we’re voting against the candidate we don’t want in office. Thus, when one candidate is crowned president, the gulf between the two parties grows as resentment fosters for another four years.

On Tuesday night, myself and a large portion of The Battalion staff are going to be gathered in the newsroom monitoring and reporting on the election as the results pour in. I won’t be upset with the results if my candidate of choice doesn’t come out on top. That’s the beauty of democracy.

Regardless who wins, I’ll respect and accept the results and my commander in chief. I’ll rest easy Tuesday night knowing that I did my part.

Joe Terrell is a senior telecommunications major and managing editor for The Battalion.


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