I voted for the first time this year and I cast my vote for Joe Biden, although the rest of my family supports Donald Trump.
Almost everyone in my family is a registered Republican. My very Catholic grandmother likes Trump for his support for banning abortions. My uncle views Biden’s call for a national mask mandate as an assault on personal freedom, even though we are in the middle of a pandemic.
I disagree with both of them and when I turned 21, I knew I had to make my beliefs matter, so I finally registered to vote.
I also had a big decision to make. What party would I register for?
I don’t fully align with either party, so I chose to be an independent.
I feel right about my choice and am proud I did my civic duty for the first time in an election of this magnitude.
When I heard Biden had won, I beamed with excitement. I support Biden’s plan to tackle climate change and his desire to reduce student debt. I felt elated about the future for the first time in a long time.
Then, I peeked at our family group chat.
It teemed with the phrases “not my president” and “Sleepy Joe.”
My family took bets on the number of years 77-year-old Biden will last as president before he steps down due to dementia. My dad lamented that if Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were to take over, she would turn us into “a bunch of socialists.”
I was shocked. Embarrassed.
I’m not embarrassed of my family, but I’m ashamed so many of them can’t even accept that Trump lost the election. The family group chat looked a lot like Trump’s Twitter account, with dozens of “The election is not over!” comments.
The truth is, I don’t love Biden. He doesn’t excite me the way Bernie Sanders did.
Bernie wanted to wipe out all student loan debt, while also making college entirely free for everyone. He even wanted to raise teachers’ pay, which I support because my family is full of teachers and professors. But, Bernie wasn’t an option. I voted for Biden because I agreed with more of his policies than Trump’s, and more importantly, because I wanted a real president who conjures respect in how he runs this country.
A real president who doesn’t tweet from his personal social media account at 3 a.m.
A real president who doesn’t call the World Health Organization (WHO) too “China-centric” for him.
A real president who doesn’t call the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” during a nationally-televised presidential debate.
A real president who wears a mask and tells other people to wear them, too.
We all know how Thanksgiving and politics mesh together. I won’t even get gravy on my mashed potatoes before grandpa will bring up Trump.
This year, I’m not going to stay quiet. I’m doing my research.
You should, too.
I’m going to ask my grandpa if he realizes Trump was unclear on whether he’d cut Social Security, while Biden fully supports it.
Or I’ll mention the Affordable Care Act, which Trump wanted to remove, even though it benefits 20 million Americans.
Don’t get me started on preexisting conditions, either.
Trump has claimed multiple times that he will always protect Americans with preexisting conditions, yet wants to cut the Affordable Care Act, which already covers preexisting conditions.
This Thanksgiving, I will finally call out the lies.
Trump calls the media “fake,” but he’s the one who routinely spouts false information to the American people. Hypocrisy at its finest.
This election has been historic.
Joe Biden received more than 74 million votes, the most in U.S. history. Donald Trump received nearly 70 million votes, which is the second-most in history.
We, as a country, recorded the highest voter turnout in over 120 years.
Young voters made up 17% of the voter turnout this election, which is 10% higher than normal, including crucial votes in battleground states like Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina.
We have a voice too.
At the dinner table this Thanksgiving, or over Zoom with your family, remember that. You and I were a part of those hundreds of millions of people who fulfilled their civic duties.
As younger people, we have the opportunity to educate our family members about the truth of this election and its results.
So don’t be quiet this Thanksgiving. Be proud of this experience.
I’m not sure if my family will choose to gather or be smart, follow our governor’s orders, and celebrate separately. Maybe you don’t know about your family either, but you can try to push them to stay home. After all, more than 250,000 people have died. That’s like if the whole population of Buffalo vanished.
No matter what, don’t let your crazy relatives overshadow your voice. Bring what you’ve learned in your time at UB, what you tell your friends here, back home with you and apply it.
Put your opinion out there on the table (or on the Zoom screen) -- right alongside that turkey, gravy and pie.
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