I’m Trying to Work Through My Own Political Apathy

As a millennial, I feel like one of the most defining moments in my life was the day I watched a seventeen-year-old Emma Gonzalez speak at the March for Our Lives Protest in Washington, DC after the shooting that killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I remember watching her speak and being deeply moved by her courage and passion to finally stand up.

. . . . .

With the results of the 2016 election, I found myself discouraged.

The night of, I stayed up watching the results pour in with family members who collectively voted for Hillary Clinton, and stared in shock at the results. Tears begin to well up in my eyes, and I could feel a tight pang of anger form internally as I watched my families reaction to the results. The day after, I went into work, where a few of our Latino employees asked me if I was happy with the results, I told them vehemently that I wasn’t, and I tried to encourage them that the results didn’t matter and America was on their side, as I could feel the fear of the news weigh on them, regardless of the fact that I may not have believed that was true.

The next couple of weeks were both sobering and anger-filled as I joined protests and watched women and men rally alongside each other, and for the first time, in the months proceeding the results, I felt hope. I leaned into my community, volunteered at an LGBTQ shelter, and read countless articles by writers addressing their own role in the current political climate, and even began to write my own, but after almost two years, I feel exhausted and sadly, apathetic. What the ‘f’ are we doing?

The midterm elections are in 22 days, and I am more nervous than ever. I want to be hopeful and continue to believe that we have learned from the recent past and ultimately decide that voting matters, but is that naive of me?

I have had a countless number conversation with my conservative leaning friends and a majority of them feel as if the left is angry and argumentive, and personally, feel victimized due to their spiritual beliefs—so most of them have tuned out. They don’t care to work through their opinions or beliefs and don’t even want to have a conversation because they feel the “other side” is reacting to emotionally. But aren’t we both?

The other day I read a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg about the Kavanaugh investigation, and she remarked that the entire process wasn’t bipartisan at all—and while I agree with her comment, how can we be bipartisan when our acting president is so extreme?

UGHHHHHH! I can feel myself just continue to question so many things within the current system around me, but how do we make sense of everything? Isn’t the point to question things? Isn’t it necessary to continue to be curious? Maybe that is how I get out of my own personal apathy., by asking questions. Maybe that’s how I can encourage other people to get out of their own apathy.

Regardless of how I feel, I will be voting in the midterm elections, but I’m tired of feeling apathetic about everything that’s going on. My generation can’t continue to be informed about the things that are going on in the world but remain apathetic about them. We have to do something.

. . . . .

Emma Gonzalez encourages me to remain engaged in our political system. People that are motivated by people are important members of the voting community and their vote counts. Sure our system may be broken and there may be a lot of weird, shady, and corrupt things going on. Sometimes you may feel like you don’t know what to do, or how to change something that our parents-parents left behind or it seems impossible to have pride in the system. Sometimes you may feel as if things are completely out of control and everyone is out to get everyone, BUT, that’s not true. We have the power to change the system because we have control over the way the system works. We are the checks and balances that allow the system to function properly, and if we don’t keep it in check, how can we keep it working for us, rather than against us?

Apathy is really not an option.

Does anyone have any thoughts about things that are happening currently? Are you registered to vote? Will you be voting in the midterms? Do you feel apathetic, and if so, how do you work through it yourself? I really am interested in keeping the conversation alive in a loving, people-forward way that encourages growth and learning. I’m currently trying to work on my own apathy, and the first step is realizing that you have been apathetic.

Illustration by Drew Albo