I voted today. See my sticker? I’ve got plenty of obligatory “I voted” sticker photos from my years of voting. But I haven’t always been a thoughtful voter, or an informed voter. I am a person with a lot of privilege, and with that comes the ability to stay pretty ignorant of life outside my bubble without feeling very many of the effects of that ignorance. I mean, what do I care who the judge is on the district criminal court of appeals? Who cares who my state representative is? Obviously since I live in Texas it’s going to be a Republican, so why bother learning? What does the Texas Railroad Commissioner even do? Hint - not a lot related to the railroad, but a lot related to our energy sector.
This way of thinking about down-ballot voting is a great way to bypass the work and mental energy involved in learning about candidates, but it’s also a great way to leave my often-embarrassing and infuriating Texas government in the hands of folks that don’t actually represent me. I mean, I talked as much about the Beto O’Rourke v. Ted Cruz fight as anyone, and no doubt it’s a big one worthy of all the attention. But as I prepared to vote, it hit me just how many seats are up for grabs in a whole variety of public sectors, yet those races received barely any media coverage. We’re talking about legislative officials, education officials, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Texas, energy sector officials, and the list goes on. Holy shit!
I know I can’t be the only product of US culture and the American education system that has spent a large part of life being fairly apathetic about my government. But that’s not only on the education system, or the privileged culture in which I was raised. Thats on me. I am a fucking adult with the ability to grow and change for the better, and admit when I’ve been a child-like idiot in my treatment of politics.
If nothing else, the debacle that was the 2016 election got my attention in a new way. I have never been attached to a party, because I don’t really care for our two-party system. There’s not enough variation in platform and not enough independent thinking amongst candidates, it seems to me, and thus I preferred to disengage from the process. Plus, I was raised not to talk about politics, and not to tell anyone who I voted for or why. It was a personal thing, and not something you conversed about. But that’s ludicrous! Avoiding uncomfortable conversations about something makes it really easy to not think too critically about the decisions you make and why. That’s how you stay apathetic, unengaged, and become harmful through your silent quiescence.
I realized I had to get really clear about the issues that move me to action, and that move me to vote, so I know which candidate to choose when I don’t agree with their entire platform. The issues I care most about are the ones that affect human rights, dignity, safety, and equality, that impact animals and the environment, that impact the future of education, our food supply, and healthcare — you know, the ones that take care of all of us and aren’t all about building and hoarding personal wealth and power. These issues are being tackled at a national level, to be sure, but those down-ballot candidates make decisions with consequences that hit closest to home. How could I have ignored that for so long? Maybe you have been more aware and engaged than me in your voting history, but if not, now is the time! Your vote only matters if you cast it, and it’s way easier to decide how to vote when you engage with and talk about the issues and the candidates. I hope we can support one another in that effort instead of expressing annoyance about friends and colleagues getting “too political.” It’s time we all become too political. Maybe that’s how politics changes.
When I was voting this morning, here are a few things I noticed:
Way too many judicial candidates running unopposed (if you want to know why that’s a problem, listen to season 3 of the Serial podcast)
A LOT of old white men in line. No offense to old white men, but I’m hoping we get more variety in our voter turnout
A lot of white people in general (maybe it was the location I chose, I hope, but still)
The Republican candidate always listed first on the ballot (is there a reason for that?)
More people than I expected on an early voting day (YAY)
More female candidates than I’ve ever seen on a ballot (YAY YAY - though I still didn’t vote for a few - there are a lot of women standing in the way on human rights and even women’s rights issues, IMO)
It is not enough to like and share posts about issues you care about, or talk about it over wine or coffee. It’s not okay to say that as a yoga practitioner or spiritual person, you avoid taking sides or speaking up because you don’t want to offend or alienate anyone. Staying neutral or silent on issues of injustice means taking the side of the oppressor, and failing to vote is staying neutral on issues of injustice. Early voting has begun. It’s time to act. What would happen if Texas didn’t have one of the worst voter turnouts in the country? No one knows! Let’s change that and find out!
You can see the candidates in opposed races, compare them, and fill out a sample ballot at
You can find out where to vote and download a sample ballot for your area at https://gisit.tarrantcounty.com/VoterLookup/