This year we voted absentee.
We follow the news back home regularly – sometimes with horror and sometimes with pride. Being abroad puts a whole new spin on the gap between our daily reality and the daily reality of folks back home. Even the economic problems seem kind of far away for us. We know some people who are struggling, but I think we know many more who are doing pretty well or for whom things haven’t changed all that much. Admittedly, we might have a surprisingly conscientious group of friends.
Anyway, this year I looked at my ballot, decided to read up on the people I didn’t know and then voted straight party. I have been following a few nationally important elections, but not much about Texas. It’s sad, but honestly, for a liberal, Texas can feel like a hopeless place. It’s also a little sad because I definitely have a lot of pride about being a Texan, but when I hear crazy stuff about secession and text books and abstinence only education I think, “Wow, am I glad I’m outa’ there!” I kid you not, I feel like I betray my friends back home just a little bit every time I think that. They’re mostly social workers. Poor Texas social workers – no hope for you I’m afraid.
I love voting. I think it’s important. I actually feel really proud when I do it. But, voting absentee is different (even if I still feel great when I check off my boxes). It can highlight that sense of being an outsider.
Sometimes, I feel like we live in a bubble. We do live in a bubble. In fact, many bubbles – the DR bubble, the State Dept bubble, the Embassy Santo Domingo bubble, the house with screens and AC bubble. Occasionally, this bothers me. It makes me feel like I can’t be informed enough – that I’m missing something. And then, I look at the bubble of back home. The bubble that includes questions like, Where’s the Dominican Republic? Do they speak a foreign language there? Aren’t you scared to leave the US? Don’t you worry the boys will grow up without friends? It makes me think, “It’s like they live in a bubble or something!”
And so, in the end, I voted. From my bubble – perhaps a bit out of ignorance, but I voted. I believe this gives me the right to keep calling myself a Texan…or at least an Austinite. This was my first election abroad. Of course, it won’t be my last. I give myself an A for effort. It’s probably always a bit of a crapshoot anyway…right?