57 Days | Supporting Our Troops
2008. The second election I would be voting in, the second where I had good friends stationed overseas — who had enlisted in the United States Army shortly after 9/11.
Whatever innocence our lives had hours before watching that crisp, blue-skied morning shift were gone, cemented as we hugged those boys goodbye and they went off to basic training.
Gone were the nights spent clubbing, random late night drives out to the beach with the windows rolled down and the radio turned up - Florida's salty air filling the car. Gone was the carefree essence that exists only before the "moment" that changes a generation. The generations before us had JFK. Pearl Harbor. D-Day. Vietnam.
We had September 11, 2001. And, as late teens/early 20-somethings, we were the first young adults to step out into this post-9/11 era into wars that slammed into a Great Recession.
Welcome to adulthood, Millennials. ✌️ Here's one "moment" after the next that will define your generation, your ability to purchase a home, and...we'll throw in some shit stereotypes for good measure.
In my early years of voting, I didn’t quite feel like I had “a dog in the fight” as I was safely at home with my parents and working at an office or theme park. I wasn't deployed. I wasn't fighting for and protecting this country.
In 2004, my first Election, I hadn't just watched my friends enlist in our Armed Forces and attended their graduations and hand wrote them letters to wherever they were stationed on this planet, but I was also just 7 months removed from watching my 18-year-old sister die unexpectedly. In 2008, at 25, I wasn't near an age where buying a home, getting married, or starting a family was even on my radar. I was still a year from completing my 7-year-tour at a community college, so paying off my community college level of student debt wasn't totally on my mind. I hadn't been laid off yet. Hadn't struggled to find a job yet. Hadn't experienced the shattering concept of TRULY being unable to afford my $300 monthly car payment - the only major bill I had next to that student loan and credit card debt (that was mostly accrued due to a 2007 knee surgery). I hadn't been rescued by friends or a $1,000 loan my grandfather sent to "help me get back on my feet" yet. In 2008, I was still four years away from reaching rock bottom. Still four years from realizing that I wouldn't have my shit together by age 30. That I wouldn't even have a 401k until age 30. Wouldn't have a savings until 31. Would live at home until age 32. Wouldn't get married until 35.
It would still be another 4 to 5 years before I truly realized the cyclone of shit that was coming my way -- and that, truthfully, most of my generation was collectively dealing with as well.
But in 2008 only one question, to me, felt the most important. I asked my friends who were deployed (for the second time): “Who do you want to lead you?”
We had a lot of open conversations around that question in both 2004 and 2008 — including how the military is typically supportive of Republican candidates, and I took that into account. Four years earlier I had taken a course in college during the Election of 2004 — Political Journalism — my first ever time voting, where I learned about what may influence your vote.
How you were raised.
If you went to church vs. not.
Where you lived — state to city.
If you went to college.
If you lived near a college. When you were born.
What you did.
How much you make.
Still, all these factors considering, it was important for me to know who my friends in the military wanted to be their Commander-in-Chief. And, at the end of those conversations, I weighed what we talked about, what I researched on both candidates and what I saw during the Election cycle. I won't lie. The 'newcomer' Barack Obama was captivating that year. I remember our group sitting on my parents couch watching him speak, commenting on how powerful and inspiring his words were. There was a lot to like. We talked about policy and political strategy, right down to the candidate's tie selection.
There was also a lot to like about the Republican candidate that year, and I found myself at a crossroads — ultimately, it came down to who I thought could best lead my friends overseas.
And when I stepped into the voting booth in 2008, I proudly cast my vote for Senator John McCain — a true, undeniable American war hero. Someone who I knew would lead our men and women in uniform to the best of his ability — would do everything in his power to keep them safe and out of harms way. But, if danger was imminent, that he would strategically guide them. Not that I doubted Obama could do this part of the job - but McCain had been there before.
It would, however, be the last time I would vote Republican.
When November 2012 rolled around, much of the personal shitstorm I wrote about above would have hit. I was nearly in the midst of it all during the end of 2012 and was personally much more impacted by the "moments" of my generation. And it absolutely influenced my vote as I'd fill in the bubble next to Barack Obama and Joe Biden's names that year. "Let's see what they can do with a second term." I don't really have to walk you through what they accomplished together — there's a cool thing called Google, if you're interested. I trusted them to lead us out of this mess previous administrations had created, and in the years after that election, especially in 2015, my life really started to flourish. All the hard work I had put in, was finally paying off. Literally. I not only could simply pay my bills and payoff my debts, but I finally had enough left over to SAVE, and at the end of 2015 — we purchased our first home.
By late 2016, however, this Independent, fearful of a different kind of shitstorm I saw brewing, became a Democrat to vote in closed primaries, and, well, you know what happened there and what has happened since. Again, Google's a cool place to start if you've been living under a rock.
Now, 2020. And, among many, many reasons to fill in the circle next to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' names — I will, as always, perhaps more than ever before, be voting with our troops in mind.
Because they are not "suckers" and "losers" — they, more than any of us, deserve better than this. They ARE the BEST of us, and I will not support someone who even mildly thinks otherwise.