Who I Voted For

by Joe Thomas

I voted today.

I’m a straight white Protestant male in the South. I could have stayed at home and watched ESPN all day today and things would be just fine for me tomorrow. But I went and voted. I voted for the people who couldn’t. I voted for the people who need an extra voice.

I voted for my great-grandmother, who had the audacity to go to college.

I voted for my grandmother on my father’s side, who fought alongside men in World War II when doing so wasn’t proper.

I voted for my grandparents on my mother’s side, who had fascinating conversations about metaphysics and psychology and religion with diverse groups of people, at a time when doing so in Mississippi could get you in a lot of trouble.

I voted for my mother, who taught me that when one person is treated unjustly, we are all treated unjustly. Who despite a myriad of challenges in her life has always spent time and energy on folks who need it. Who stood up in front of Senators on my behalf when I was a child with health problems and no health insurance. Who was forcibly removed from the Georgia State Capitol for speaking up for poor people.

I voted for my father, who taught me critical thinking and analysis, and the importance of being well-informed. Who worked hard every day for 25 years to make our city a better place, in his own way. Who taught me how music and art can be more than entertainment, but can convey a message of hope and change to people.

I voted for my brother, who until recently was my sister, who has shown more bravery in the face of personal challenges than I ever will, and whose community continues to struggle for the rights that they deserve. I voted as an ally.

I voted for my future family, so that they can live in a place of which they can be proud.

I voted for the formerly incarcerated, the legal aliens, the undocumented immigrants, and the folks without a photo ID, and all others who fight disenfranchisement. I voted with the hope that soon the promise of our democracy will be open to all who live here.

I voted for my city, so that it can continue to blossom into a place that is, as someone recently said, not only too busy to hate, but brave enough to love.

I voted for my state, flawed as it may be, so that it can continue to grow and progress into a place that combines the charm and creativity and class and culture of the American South with the forward-thinking open-mindedness of the best that our country has to offer.

I voted for my country, because when you love something, you work hard to make it better.

I voted for all of this, and more. I voted because I can, and others cannot.

I voted because it’s my responsibility.

I voted today.