Every election day, I celebrate those who bravely fought for me to have the right to vote. From the suffragists to Civil Rights Movement marchers, from the men and women who bravely protect the right for all citizens to vote, to the volunteers who man the polling booths–I thank God for all of them.
But I wasn’t always a voter. The type of church I attend discourages it, because as Christians, we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
Yet, my family was slightly politically active out of necessity. If my dad wasn’t a part of the union, I wouldn’t have had so many awesome health benefits. And my childhood is peppered with images from activist PTA meetings. Far from the parents who worry about baking or organizing school functions, we were a part of a contentious fight to keep our school principal. As little girls, my sister and I, along with other students and parents, protested this at a City Hall meeting.
So political demonstrating is in my blood.
I missed my first opportunity to cast my vote for Al Gore. My friends and I were in Italy. Anti-Bush sentiment ran high, and we were at a demonstration in Italy when we heard that Bush was re-elected. We helplessly watched as Italians protested Bush being in office.
I realized then that my vote mattered. Maybe it only mattered a little bit, but it still mattered. Italian policemen ran through Rome with guns to calm a crowd who was angry about my new president.
And I did nothing. I could do nothing.
It was a lesson I would never forget. The very next opportunity I had, I voted. There was something about that first year, climbing into high heels and waiting in line, casting my ballot, that made me feel as though I belonged to a sacred continuum of brave folk. I always remember that there is a fight to keep people of color from voting. There is a fight to keep women from voting.
And the people who discourage me from voting and other political involvement were usually white, male Republicans. As much as I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I respect their decision not to vote, I would contend that it is easy not to be political when your material needs are, for the most part, being met.
I vote not only for me, but for my community. I trust God; He always comes first. But part of my work as a Christian is to be present in the community in which I live. Being a good neighbor means obeying the laws, but it also means fighting for laws that will be in everyone’s best interest.
No matter how I try, I can’t not be political.
As I vote tomorrow, I do so against the wishes of others. So even in the 21st century, voting is not merely another thing on my to-do list. It is a way that I worship God.
My voting is *still* radical.
And I’m cool with that.