Writer and gardener living in between, empowering empaths and survivors through story. Follow her on Medium here.
I am the undecided unicorn voter you've been searching for. And I am not undecided really — I am morally torn.
Being torn in half by two questionable choices is nothing new for me. My first time was post-9/11, when President Bush declared the Axis of Evil and insisted, "You're either with us or against us." I was a 12-year-old "other" — a white half-Middle-Eastern kid shunned to the margins of a town filled with churches and pizza places.
I lived in the grey nuances then, and now, being an undecided voter in the 2020 U.S. Election, I am eager to mix the blue and red parties and make America purple.
And I am not alone.
About 42 percent of Americans identify as independents, according to this recent Gallup poll. "Millions of independent thinkers — polled at almost 70 percent of the American population and labeled 'the exhausted majority' [in 2019]— are harboring intense feelings of political homelessness and ideological isolation," as Bridget Phetasy explores in 'The battle cry of the politically homeless.'
Here's what this means for me as a voter.
My conscience cannot rest voting for Trump, whose words have been deemed "the language of domestic violence." Even amid orders the current administration passed to protect women and children from trafficking. Then there's Biden who, despite introducing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), is all too keen to avoid the #MeToo movement and take a page from Bill Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" playbook.
Meanwhile, Biden is tranquilizing yet another elephant in the room — the nearly indisputable video footage of him touching young girls without their consent.
I am not a mother.
Maybe if I was, I'd pounce at the opportunity to embolden one evil to defeat another for the sake of our collective child of a revolution — the United States of America. I am single, and as I write these words, I anticipate loved ones who read them might leave me more alone than I've ever been. That's what happens when you let two evils tear you apart — light floods your solitude.
Love comes in through the cracks.
In June, I attended a Black Lives Matter protest in my little hometown of Pen Argyl, which is notoriously known as racist, in Pennsylvania — a swing state. As my mom and I ran with our signs to catch up with the BLM crowd, a man with the counter-protest holding his All Lives Matter sign sacrificially cheered, "God bless America!"
My instinct was to send it back to him. I smiled and said, "God bless America!" My mom was confused. I was a little confused too. So we moved on to join what may be written as the right side of history.
Suddenly, the pastel flags, block-print of the contrasting signs, the sideline chants in favor of the police, and the gratitude we had for the police who were keeping the peace that fateful day, they all…blurred for me. I had arrived anxious and angry, and as we chanted,"This is what America looks like," I grinned.
Yes. This is what America looks like. And if I can feel at peace here, so can many. So can the collective.
I flashed back to my early birthday parties when we'd parade these same streets the KKK marched not long ago. Every October, my mom would teach my small group of friends that Columbus Day was not all it's cracked up to be. Columbus was lost. The Native Americans found this beautiful land first.
Nonetheless, this is what America looks like: lost children parading streets their ancestors commandeered. I heard my inner child and the friends of decades ago playing flutes and ringing bells. In June 2020, I heard pieces of the past, the present, and the future. I heard hope. And I can't for the life of me, let that go.
At the BLM protest, I turned to my mom in tears and said: "Everyone finally came to the party."Screenshot via Twitter
There is hope between the terror and the fear.
There is swinging between the poles. I am loving all of you more than you know and I'm aware that so many see our state of affairs as right and wrong, good and evil, left and right. The truth is made of all of us. It's complicated. I fell asleep in 2019 as a pessimistic liberal and am rising in 2020 an optimistic independent.
I never knew true optimism until I tested my pessimism.
Even now, that hope is wavering, it's vibrating; that's how I trust it's alive and well. I wish this feeling would continue to spread. In response to the Tweet going around about undecided voters, yes, I know not to eat bees, and yes, it does take me a while to get dressed some mornings. I am living in a humid haze of sorts, and I'd rather be here than frigid at the north or south poles. Polarization is natural. But it's okay to live near the Equator. It's warm here.
Still, my mental health doesn't seem to matter to the amplified social media personas who might rather see me fall than watch Biden or Trump rise. That's how I know something is deeply awry. If you don't hashtag your posts and apologize for featuring white daisies on your gardening Instagram, then you're assumed to be against one agenda and, by default, for the polarized agenda.
This is not freedom.
Any writer like me who is hesitating to wield their pen for fear of losing love and money knows it. Any person who is tired of choosing one abuser over another knows it. Anyone who fears being shunned knows it.
This is a testing time and also a tender time. I get it. The pain is so wide. The love is so wide. Every event means something different for each of us, and that's okay. As for me, I'm finished with the shaming and blaming. I'm resisting the urge to play the victim or the savior.
I've played those roles already. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is now, October 2020, and it is not just for survivors like me — it is for all of us. We are collectively caught in the cycle of abuse, and the healing could be even wider than the wound. The current system needs to change before we can fully recover. This is not democracy, not Trump's America, not Biden's America.
And if you look closer with progressive journalists like Kim Iversen, you might find yourself torn by the two parties, on the sidelines, or simply resting somewhere between the two.
Deeper Iyer, Solidarityls and Building Movement Project Creative Commons
"Salute the history [but] Wall Street has the ticket they want" — Nina Turner on Kamala Harris as VP
If you can make space, click on any of these links to get a more concrete sense of where I'm coming from. I know it's a lot to digest during this epic reality war we are in, and I'm thankful so many of us have our hands on deck searching for truth on the horizon.
Winning this reality war starts with getting real with ourselves. I am not here to lecture or to prove. I'm just here to offer perspective on why your neighbor's lawn might seem unbiased.
Centrists may be a sighing breed, but we're not dying out. We're rising beneath the surface. We're talking. We're reclaiming power through flowing kindness. Sanders voters are quietly bonding with possible Trump voters, and I see little shame in that. While such unfathomable unity is being censored, one truth of many is coming: Independents, libertarians, and moderates could be the new progressives to unite the parted sea and sail forward. If only we weren't so afraid.
So yes, I will be voting on November 3rd.
I think it's important that many people vote so that we can get a clear picture of the pie, and then ask why. I just don't see myself voting for Trump or Biden. Maybe I'll regret my indecision, but today voting for one feels like I'd be denying the other base of America their truth.
There is more than a villain or a savior. There is common ground. There is a grey area between right and wrong. And I cannot lead you to that place. I just want to reassure the anxious with calm: Don't worry, peace exists in the margins. I have hope that no matter which candidate wins, the people will win their power. The people will win the election.
Being an undecided voter in the 2020 US Election is an off-beat stance. You can call me a unicorn, for I am not easily offended. I am not a fantasy. I am a real living breathing human being. And I surrender. My opting out of the mob culture is not a protest — it is a submission.
I submit to the good will of the people I know of all parties and hope and pray that there is a more positive energy among this than not. I surrender my body to the men who have felt entitled to fighting for its "rights" for so long, for I am more than a body. I am a mind. I am a heart.
And both my heart and mind are ready to drop the labels. Each of us has a part to play in 2020. And mine is expanding the blank spaces between the stark lines where I am blurring them beautifully. I am grateful for every effort, every poll worker, every protestor, every vote, every voice. And I hope for the sake of your own peace, you can be thankful for what I have to offer. If not, you're free to unfriend me. This is America.
"Whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing: I have given myself over into the hands of strangers, because it can't be helped. And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light." –Margaret Atwood
Before you react here in the digital realm, think quietly. Ask questions. What are you willing to overlook and why? What of the old are you willing to release and what of the new are you willing to welcome? Which relationships could transcend the shift? If your pure desire for belonging and love solely rests in the soiled palms of two political parties, this is just not right…or left. It's neither. It's both.
What can possibly be done to hold America together? Start by signing this letter if it speaks to you.
***Image by Deepa Iyer (Solidarity Is and Building Movement Project). Where are you seeing yourself here?