For the second time in my life, I voted in a presidential election.I checked the boxes for the candidates I hoped would assume office, signed my name, licked the envelope shut, carefully placed that envelope inside an additional white envelope and biked my way over to the post office to send my absentee ballot back east.
Voting in a presidential election as a college student from Pennsylvania has always felt like a distant, but important, part of democracy, especially in two of the most pivotal elections this nation has ever witnessed.
And I voted in them.
My generation now has a say.
As of last week, over five million voters under 30 had cast their votes before election day – double the number of votes cast by young voters at that time in 2016, according to The New York Times.
I cannot yet bring myself to say “regardless of the outcome,” but still, I am proud of those around me for voting, and for voting with feeling.
“They are kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience,” said William O’Brien, New Hampshire Republican house speaker up for re-election.
Perhaps we are voting liberal – 82% of students who responded to a Record survey planned to vote for Biden.
Perhaps our life experiences are quantifiably less than those older than us, though we certainly do have some.
But most importantly, we are definitely voting our feelings, as we should be.
Here at Goshen, I’ve witnessed a passion for justice and equality that leaves us with no choice but to head to the polls.
Students stood in protest earlier this week as a parade of Trump supporters drove by on Main Street. Others joined in on hard political conversations with those who held differing views. Students asked questions, prayed for change, sat in discomfort, empathized with others – and the GC campus made space for it all.
For all the feelings.
The act of voting should never be absent of feeling. Without it, we lose the acknowledgement of our humanity, the same humanity that is affected by climate change, by closed borders, by repealed health care for all, by rising COVID-19 cases.
Our feelings educate our vote, though they cannot stand alone without knowledge of policy, platforms and assessment of potential national leaders.
Our feelings educate our vote and bring us back to the communities we live in when larger outcomes are uncertain, working for justice alongside our neighbors.
Two days after the election, our future president still unknown, here is what I do know:
The generation of voters I find myself in is motivated towards action by feelings – feelings of lament, deep longing, hopeful anticipation.
Those around me are committed to educated voting.
Goshen College is making space to process our current reality.
To bring all these observations together in one community is rare. It is a gift.
I voted my feelings this election year, and as I wait along with those in my community for the pending election results, I’m confident these feelings will drive us back to the places in which we can still provoke change.
I voted my feelings this election year, and I’ll do it again next time.