I voted today.
Weird how voting for a Democrat running against a Mormon Republican felt like so much more of an act of rebellion than the hundreds of things I do in my non-gospel-oriented daily life.
The last (and only) time I voted was in 2008. Just two months earlier I'd told my parents that I had no interest in the church and would no longer be attending with them. I did my research carefully for that election, trying to verify that the opinions I held on each issue were solid, logical, and not simply political side effects of my Mormon brainwashing. I assigned each issue a point value based on how important it was to me and gave each candidate a numerical rating based on how strongly I agreed with his stance on each issue...
Okay, the point is that I created a complicated and mathematically semi-legitimate method of determining who I should vote for. And when I added up the hundreds of points, Obama was ahead by about three points. Which told me that I was pretty much split down the middle when it came to which candidate I agreed with.
When I went to vote with my mother, I still wasn't sure who I'd vote for. I'd never voted before, but I'd always had (until quite recently) a conservative, Republican outlook. The election came at an awkward stage when I'd decided to abandon that outlook but hadn't decided to what extent I should do so. Did I want to keep some of the basic tenets I'd grown up with or scrap them all and become some kind of radical liberal?
I decided, as I was waiting in line to vote, that I should probably just vote for McCain. I hadn't changed many of my views yet, and I didn't know if I ever would, so I decided I'd probably prefer a President whose views aligned more with my roots. And despite the fact that my absurdly intricate mathematical exercise had given Obama a marginal lead, I voted Republican.
This morning was completely different.
I went alone. I knew exactly who I was voting for. It wasn't a particularly close call in my mind. I'd learned a lot about myself and the world around me in the past four years, and I was more in touch with what my own beliefs and ideals were.
As it turns out, I didn't decide to become a radical liberal. I've settled into a center-left spot on the political spectrum, and it's one that I'm comfortable with. I think I especially like the fact that my opinions are scattered around enough that there isn't a single political party I align smoothly with. I voted about 75% Democrat and 25% Republican. But the big one...was a Democrat.
And I walked out of there feeling like a badass. I know that my parents, my sisters and their husbands all voted--and they all voted for Romney. And I know that even though I acted out in some small way against their way of life and their religious blindness that I did the right thing. I made the right choice because it was my choice--and that's a truly wonderful feeling that I've only been able to experience unabatedly and unabashedly since my departure from the Mormon church and the Mormon mindset.
Of course, I'm also glad that Romney didn't win because either he's too easily fooled to be the President (he truly believes in Mormonism) or he's untrustworthy (he knows the church is a hoax and he's going along with it for personal gain) or he's too spineless to be the President (he knows the church is a hoax but he's too scared to face the truth or leave the church). But this election was an important one for me less because of the Mormon candidate and more because it showed me how far I've come in my ability to make my own decisions and forge my own identity.
I feel like I've finally escaped the brainwashing machine.