The 2020 Election Is a Defining Moment For First-Time Voters — and I'm One of Them

The 2020 Election Is a Defining Moment For First-Time Voters — and I'm One of Them

I don’t come from a particularly political family — we discuss candidates in times of election and lament about all of their failings, but we don’t look into the issues. Our opinions are formed by word of mouth, social media, or what news channels we watch. But my grandfather, one of the few men in my family, is in fact very political; he’s also Republican, and in my proudly Black family, that doesn’t offer him much authority when we discuss which candidate to endorse. Being the unapologetic Republican that he is, my grandfather cast his vote for Trump in 2016 and to this day does not regret his decision — and this coming November, he plans to do the same.

I’ve known my grandfather for all my life, which is why it’s easy to relegate his political ideals as the stubborn ramblings of a kindhearted old man too set in his outdated beliefs. But I rarely offer the same justification for other Trump supporters, especially those from my own generation. I was a senior in high school during the 2016 campaign season, and my AP government teacher made sure that we were informed every step of the way. For the first time in my life, I was expected to care about politics, and to fuel that care into research to form a supported opinion on the candidates. Despite my preparedness and knowledge on the election, my minor status prevented me from submitting a ballot.

Later that year, Trump’s narrow win over Hillary Clinton was one of the most memorable days of my freshman year at UCLA. I had wandered into a watch party in a neighboring dorm, and the morose air grew heavier with contempt and blind shock at the news. Outside, it seemed that everyone I came across was equally burdened by the news, but now knowing that half of the youth (18-29) didn’t vote — and out of those who did, only half supported Hillary — I’ve realized that sight was merely the projection of my own feelings about the results.

Since that decision in 2016, the lines between ones vote and their moral ideals and intrinsic values have irrevocably blended. The youth has taken the stark divide between right and left and run with it. For the left-leaning, a vote for Trump means that you don’t respect minority populations and that you support police brutality and all the other horrible things the left associates with Trump’s regime. In this upcoming election, a vote isn’t just a passing decision — it defines who you are.

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