The day Donald Trump announced his official campaign for president, I remember my reaction of laughter and thinking, “no way.”
I was not raised in a family that was democrat or republican. The only time I’ve heard anyone talk politics in my family is when Bush was president and I’m fairly certain I was seven. The most I talked about politics growing up was in history classes, talking about dead presidents. But when I entered college, there was a shift in mindset. As students, we are told it is our duty and our vote counts.
Thanks to the Electoral College, that’s a lie, but voting is put on a pedestal in college. This is why I refuse to talk politics with my friends, family, co-workers or anyone I come in contact with.
To me, political views are a lot like religion. It’s a belief one thinks is true, but I do not like when people try to push religion on me and I sure as hell don’t want people pushing their political views on me.
I had a man ask me while I was shopping for cilantro in the grocery store during September if I was voting for Trump because I have a tattoo of antlers on my arm. I felt so violated and caught off guard that I was responded with “I’m not sure yet” and he proceeded to walk closer and closer to me while telling me all about how Trump is a good man. I will never understand why this man thought that action was appropriate.
I do not care whether that man was a supporter of Trump, Clinton or anyone else for that matter — it is not OK to approach someone unannounced and corner them because they had a tattoo of part of an animal on their arm.
Maybe it’s how this presidential race went and how it was basically two school yard bullies running for one of the most powerful positions in the world, but the amount of people that find it OK to bring up politics to people they don’t even know, in my opinion, is incredibly violating. That man does not need to know if I am pro-life or pro-choice. He does not need to know my beliefs on LGBTQA rights or what I think about gun rights.
It is possible that I am finding people are more vocal about their political views now because this was the first election I and many of my peers could participate in, but I also think it’s possible that the man who is now running this country has a lot to do with the amount of unsolicited political talk I get from strangers and from my friends and family.
I understand that part of our duty as Americans is to vote, but to be cruel to others because of their beliefs is just pathetic. There’s two things that instantly enraged people — politics and religion — and guess what? No one has control over any of it.
Sure, people vote for candidates because of the promises they make, but there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen. A man might be a strong Christian that attends church every Sunday but there’s really no guarantee he’ll be going through those pearly gates. There’s no reason for people to be cruel when you don’t believe in the same things.
A person is merely made up of their beliefs and that is what makes them human. Not everyone in the world can say they are lucky enough to live in a country where their political views can be openly discussed. I’m just curious where the boundary went. It may have disappeared the moment Trump announced his presidency or maybe it still exists for some.
A bumper sticker is not an invitation to bring up politics. A sticker on a computer case is not an invitation to bring up politics. My tattoo on my arm gives no one the right to assume I will be voting for a certain candidate.
This generation is finally starting to care and that’s great, but to start a conversation or stand up for what you believe in is different than pressuring others to believe the same things or being mean because they don’t agree.
Anyone can believe what they want and practice what they preach, just please don’t push it onto others. Respect that we live in a country that gives us the freedom to believe in whatever we want.
Cassidy Callaham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org