A New Year’s Resolution on Civics

A look at my transformation from political avoidance, fear, and apathy to passion, knowledge, and action.

I haven’t even tried to make a new years resolution in ages. What’s the point really? You can resolve at any point in time to do things, why does the 1st of the year make it any different? It doesn’t, but people like to look at it as a time of new beginnings therefore a good time to make resolutions.

Well this year I am making a resolution. I resolve to be a more active and informed citizen. I’ve voted throughout most of my adult life, but have not gotten involved past reading or watching news, and making commentary on social media.

My political involvement was very limited and there were several reasons for this. One being that I don’t recall politics being a big topic of discussion in our house growing up. Consequently as I was turning 18 I had almost no political leanings or opinions of my own that would have been informed by my parents. Not to mention that during that time I wasn’t exactly “living a stable life” so to speak. I had been through plenty of rebellious and dangerous years, marked by mental health issues, destructive and abusive relationships, and lots of partying. I was still fairly in the thick of that as I gained the right to vote.

Shortly thereafter though, I met the man that would become my first husband. He was 13 years older than I, owned his own home and land, and had a business of his own as well. I was desperate to settle down and leave my old life behind. I wanted to be a wife and a mother and to just feel “normal”. Turns out that he was a staunch republican from a very republican family. The extent of my knowledge at the time of political parties was basically “democrats are for regular people and republicans are for rich people”. It’s not that I was or am a stupid person, quite the contrary. I have a brain and intelligence, but at that time civics and politics just weren’t on my radar. Well, Mr. GOP was only more than ready to disavow me of the notions I had about the parties. Basically I spent the next 3 years or so being brainwashed by him, his family (who lived literally right across the street from us), and the constant FOX News and Rush Limbaugh that were always on at the little hamburger stand he owned, and which I ended up working at 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. He had me voting red in no time! I realize now that I was simply a little puppet for them. I never felt the passion they did for those issues. As a matter of fact, we occasionally butted heads. I am and always have been pro-choice, and I really got into it with his father over the issue. I had a very close friend who had an abortion at one time and I knew it was 100% the right choice for her (and the potential child).  This altercation with my father-in-law was my first experience with how strongly my emotions can get when it comes to political/social issues. My experience as a whole with Mr. GOP really turned me off from politics for a long time. I felt manipulated and stupid, still didn’t really know where I was on the political spectrum, and the strength of emotions I experienced while being briefly engaged in political discourse really scared me.

This takes me to my next reason for not being politically involved for much of my life. I am prone to very strong emotional reactions that can be difficult for me to manage and come down from. It’s a function of my personality as well as my earlier stated mental health issues. I also struggle daily with anger issues and that doesn’t mix well with politics. I basically kept myself purposefully in the dark and disengaged for a long time in order to preserve my sanity. Things started to change when I met my (current) husband. A wonderful, supportive, terribly smart and witty man who I instantly fell in love with and whose political leanings are the polar opposite of Mr. GOP. Over time, I began to realize that our basic values, ideas about social issues, and world view really lined up. That’s when I started to awaken to the notion that I was actually a democrat. And probably a pretty liberal one at that! I started to vote again, but with a lot of guidance from him. I began to consume more political news, develop my views, and communicate them through social media.

This last year was REALLY rough. The election campaigns were so divisive and unsettling, and that coupled with their extended time was so overwhelming. More than once I had to take a media blackout time just to keep my head on straight. On election night I had a full on panic attack and was hysterical for quite some time. At that moment I felt true and deep fear of what this would mean for all of us (Americans, my friends, my family, and me) and the system of government we’ve relied on for over 200 years.

But here is where my New Years resolution is coming in. We need to fight to save our country, our democracy, and our rights as Americans! None of us can afford to be a passive observer anymore. Too much is at stake right now to shrug off what is happening, or turn a blind eye. If you’ve never voted before, now is the time to get registered! If you’ve never been to a town hall meeting, or a rally, or a march, now is the time to start! Join a like-minded activist group and start taking action! Donate money if you can to organizations like the ACLU, the NAACP, or Planned Parenthood. Call your senators, call your representative. Lobby your local and state governments to fight back against this administration. And if by chance you’ve always voted republican now is a great time to let your representatives know that although you generally support their causes, you don’t support a lunatic who is trying to strip away our democratic rights as citizens and implant his billionaire friends into influential positions. We all need to be resisting in whatever ways we can. Even if you’re like me and you’re doing it reluctantly. I may now consider myself a “revolutionary”, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t drag myself kicking and screaming out of my safe, easy bubble!

Author: Amanda

Homemaker, mom, former military spouse. Native north-easterner, chosen north-westerner. Crafter, cooker, reader, worrier.

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