Cornell W.

Such a simple question, with SO many answers, each of them important and each of them worthy of an essay, but alas, time is of the essence.

Why did I vote?

I voted, because I believe when it’s all said and done, that we are better together than we are apart. As citizens in this Federal Democratic Republic, the rights and freedoms we taken for granted come with an agreement by each of us, to contribute to the benefit of the commonwealth through taxes and active citizenship.

Voting is literally the least we can do as citizens to honor the agreement we made with this country the day we became legal adults and chose to remain here. Up to the point that we turn 18, we exist in the United States much by the will and choices of our parents or legal guardians, but the moment we are given legal agency over our lives and choose to live in the U.S., we also agree to hold up our end of the grand bargain that is self-governing society.

I voted because as a Black man in this country, I am included in a lot of statistics that I don’t like:
- Most likely in the U.S. to get killed during an exchange with a police officer
- Most likely in the U.S. to be imprisoned
- Lowest life expectancy in U.S. (Black Males = 72 yrs, U.S. avg = 79 yrs)

Statistics I hope to change for Black males each time I vote are the rate of civic participation and the rate of held elected office.

I voted because my wife has a pre-existing condition. A chronic illness that affects her daily life in ways that, despite knowing her for 24 years, I still don’t fully understand. A chronic illness that makes her a “high risk” candidate for health insurance companies, which means the only way she can get “reasonably priced” health care is for one of us to have a job that provides health care or for us to live in a state that offers health care.

Unfortunately, her chronic illness means it can be difficult for her to maintain the kind of employment that offers the type of health insurance benefits that she needs to have sufficient support for her chronic illness. To call this a vicious cycle is akin to calling the attacks on 9/11, a bad day. 

The health and wellbeing of a person should not be subject to a company’s bottom line. A person’s chronic illness should not be a lifetime sentence to debt, joblessness, and dependence. A person should not have to pay a month’s rent for a drug prescription. Yet, this is the world we currently in live and this is the world we will continue to live in unless we decide that it should be different. I declare the world I want each time I vote.

Lastly, while being in this country is a choice for many, there was a time when being in this the country was not a choice for some. My ancestors were brought here in chains, and shackles with only one choice available, live or die. My other ancestors already had well-established tribal communities long before Europeans first stepped foot on what we now know as America. I owe it to my ancestors who were forced here and for so long denied access into this grand bargain and my ancestors, whose kindness to colonial settlers was met with lies, plunder and genocide, to vote.

Sure, it’s just one vote, but my vote is my voice and I know that I have that vote and voice because of the shoulders of those who came before me that I stand on today. To not use my vote is to turn my back on my ancestors and I won’t do that.