Certain Unalienable Rights

November 8, 2016. A day that started out as a distant, far-off point in the future has finally arrived. Through months and months of mudslinging, scandals, and turmoil, we are here, America. This is it. I cannot begin to express how glad I am this nightmare of season is coming to a close. But political views aside, I want to share the experience that I pray outshines and outlives all the twisted, divisive blows our country has endured this election cycle.

Last week, I voted early, partially to escape the long lines, partially to boast my “I Voted” sticker a bit longer (yes, I am re-wearing it today). I honestly hadn’t given it much thought, as I already had familiarized myself with the candidates and printed off my mock ballot for reference. When I pulled up to the polling station, I pretended to be so engrossed in my phone that I couldn’t make eye contact with the last-minute-candidate-swayers outside. As I entered the civic center lobby, I hopped in the back of the line and waited patiently as the clerk explained voting procedures. After getting the right shot of the line for the “look at me voting” Snapchat filter, I finally placed my phone in my purse and looked up. Before me I saw hundreds of people patiently waiting there turn to cast a ballot, and suddenly I was overcome with pride. Americans of all different races, religions, and ages…from different jobs, economic levels, and political views. We were all in one line, doing one task, together.

It hit me that this is very epitome of America. Every person in that room had a different story, but all levels of hardships and privilege led them to this point where we all become equal. I can trace my lineage to the American Revolution, but the man behind me with a thick accent who presumably was raised in a different country has no less power today than I do. One voice, one vote, one chance to make a change. That’s what we are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. That’s what countless people have lived and died for, so that we could wait in this line and invest in our nation.

This election has brought out the worst in America, there is no question. But it represents so much more than the hatred and fear that have propelled us to this point. As I pushed the “Cast Ballot” button, tears welled in my eyes. Not just because I participated in a historic moment for America, but because out of the corner of my eye I could see a little girl standing at the booth next to her father. My mom took me to vote when I was a child, showing me the importance of this decision for the future world I would live in. And now it’s my turn, all of our turns, to decide what this nation will become for this little girl and generations to follow. Vote.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

For information on where to vote, voting requirements, and building your own ballot, visit Vote411.org.

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