Saturday, July 23, 2016

This November

apolitical (adjective) (definition from Merriam-Webster)
1:  having no interest or involvement in political affairs; also :  having an aversion to politics or political affairs
2:  having no political significance

For much of my life I thought of myself as relatively apolitical, but this has changed over the past few years.  As a loved one recently pointed out to me, it is a privilege to be able to think of oneself as apolitical, for it implies some ability to be detached from - insulated from - the realities and inequities of the world.  I avoid venturing into the morass that is social media politics, and I also intend to keep my blog relatively free of politics.  That does not mean that I do not have strong opinions.

The night that President Barack Obama was elected in 2008 was one of the most memorable of my life.  It was the fall of my junior year.  I was sitting in my dorm room watching the returns on my computer screen and, with my door open, simultaneously hearing the TV coverage being played in the lounge down the hall.  Right after the election was called, I remember the elation that flooded our building and the tears of two black dorm-mates as they ran past cheering, arms around each other.  I remember feeling that this election result was important to them on a level that I myself would never fully understand, but could respect and be grateful for, and that it helped me believe in greater possibilities.  I remember walking into the lounge and standing with my fellow students as the Obama family walked onto the stage in Chicago, an image of solidarity, love, and renewed optimism.  At that moment I realized that this election was perhaps the most important political event that my generation had experienced.  I will miss President and Mrs. Obama very much.

This year's presidential election is the one for which I am most fired up.  As I read the news and hear about all the outrageous statements made by various politicians, I feel nostalgic for the candidacies of Senator John McCain and Governor Mitt Romney.  I re-watch The West Wing and wish that Arnie Vinick was a real person who could run for president.  I vacillate between anger, indignation, and resolve, and even though the political optimism I felt in 2008 is a memory, I still feel hopeful for a better world.

I am proud to be an American citizen who is also a woman, a Chinese-American immigrant and daughter of immigrants, a scientist, and a future physician.  My deep-seated belief is that our country needs a president who is experienced and tough, but compassionate and classy; a president who balances idealism with practicality, and understands the realities of American politics.  We need a president who values the contributions of immigrants in America, and who believes in women's rights, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, high-quality healthcare and education for all, and biomedical and basic science research.

I encourage everyone to think deeply and critically about what is at stake in this election, to partake in civil discourse about our beliefs, to volunteer for the campaign you believe in, and most importantly, to vote on November 8.