A riddle, a realization and a refusal

Jessica Barnett


Let's start with a riddle. There's a person running for president. This person has years of political experience, a lot of influential friends and a firm belief that women are equal to men. In fact, catering to women has played a big part in the campaign. That said, the person also has a reputation for being untrustworthy, which has caused a fair amount of trouble during the campaign.

Sound familiar? It's Aaron Burr, 1796 presidential candidate. He finished in fourth place with 30 electoral votes.

Here's another one: a presidential candidate described as smart with money, who supports the removal of an entire race from the nation and believes money earned by one group of people should not be spent on a group of people less well off than the first. He clashes with the party leadership, but he's popular in the South.

Don't let this one trump you... it's Hugh Lawson White, 1836 presidential candidate. He actually finished in third place with 23 electoral votes.

When people tell me this race is historic or there's never been a candidate like Hillary or Trump in the past, I find it hard to believe. Racism, sexism and shadiness have always been a part of American politics.

I listen to my elders, and I find myself disappointed at the realization that they believe we have come so far when it seems so obvious that we haven't come far enough. I listen to my peers, and I find myself frustrated by all the issues we still face and the lack of motivation to do anything about it. It's like sitting in a room full of John Mayers. Everyone is waiting on the world to change, but if they would shush for just one second, they might remember they are Americans and capable of creating that change.

I look to the children in my life, and that is where I truly find my inspiration. I refuse to let them live in a world where "my vote doesn't count" is an acceptable excuse to sit at home and complain for the next four years. I refuse to sit back and let them live in a world that would rather threaten their lives than let them live as who they are.

I refuse to let them live in fear of freedom. If I do nothing else as an aunt, a nanny or a friend, I want to make sure I encourage discussions of difficult topics and fighting past failures until they reach success. I want to see a generation of motivated, active individuals who see closed doors and look for windows, keyholes and doorknobs... not reasons to sit until someone else does the hard work for them.

I plan to vote this year. My vote may not count. My vote may not mean much in a state that has historically voted against me and my views. But it's a vote all the same. It's a voice.

I refuse to let the generation of children who look up to me see it silenced.