Because, casting a vote isn’t a transaction. You cannot expect all your problems to be fixed by one vote, then not be involved.

As a South Asian American Public Defender, I am voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in this election. My vote isn’t to get Donald Trump out of the office or a compromise I am making. Also, it is not me “playing a game to change the system by using the system.” My vote means something more than those feelings. Rather, my vote means that I will be more involved with my government.

I understand that as a current public defender that I am not supposed to like Senator Kamala Harris and openly criticize Vice President Joe Biden’s time as a public defender. But, I am not going to. My generation may be known for many things, however, most notable is the creation of cancel culture. Yes, we are dealing with the consequences of the Baby Boomer generation’s decision. Yet, I am not here to villainize them for their ignorance and mistakes. I urge Gen Z to be better than my generation when it comes to giving people chances because quick judgment can lead to severe collateral consequences.

Too often, we are encouraged to make quick judgments. We are told to decide on innocence or guilt before an investigation is complete; we are told to only like perfect people; and, we are told to quickly cancel those who don’t see the world like us. If the other side is a bully, then we must be bully backs. “Fight fire with fire,” they say. This attitude translates to our elections, especially when electing our future President. But, fighting fire with fire only makes everything around us burn. Then, we are left with nothing but ash. And, you cannot build anything out of ash.

I am not saying the past should be ignored or even forgotten. We should turn to the past when learning how to grow and change. However, when it comes to individuals, we must see how they’ve learned from their mistakes and failures. And, Vice President Joe Biden, is the perfect example of learning from previous mistakes.

I must admit that Joe Biden wasn’t my guy. He was always the guy who was just there. But, now, he’s my guy. I got on the Biden train when I saw how we handled the death of George Floyd. I didn’t see a man running for President. Rather, a father who understood what it was like to lose a child. I saw a man willing to listen. He sat down with Black leaders instead of towering over them. Biden didn’t want to be a savior, rather an ally. He wanted to learn his role in the Black Lives Matter movement.

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More importantly, Biden doesn’t surround himself with “yes men.” By picking Senator Kamala Harris, by adopting more “radical” democratic policies, and by using his experience, Biden has shown Americans that he’s willing to work with others to make our lives better. Biden is flawed but honest; experience, but open-minded; confident, but humble. He’s a man surrounded by loss, which makes him more receptive to people’s needs. He’s overcome his demons, ran through the darkness to find the light, and shared all of this with all of us.

I understand he and Harris have a past, but we all do. As a public defender, I argue every day that no one should be treated like the worst thing they’ve ever done. I advocate for chances and opportunities. I remind the justice system that we are human. No one will ever stop being human. We don’t become perfect overnight. Even as we get older, we will make mistakes. If I start judging the Biden-Harris ticket because of their past behavior and not how they’ve overcome their mistakes, then I am no better than those who advocate against my clients. If I can’t understand that their views on certain issues have changed over the years because they learned more, then I am no better than those locking up my clients.

Throughout our elections, constituents and politicians believe that voting means choosing the perfect person. Those in the public eye must give up the luxury of being human. However, the Biden-Harris ticket shows that “being human” is exactly what this country needs. We don’t need a defensive President acting as those he’s never done anything wrong. But, one who can listen, learn and advocate. We have to stop placing people in molds because we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We must learn to accept people’s individuality for our nation to grow. And, that’s what the Biden-Harris ticket represents.

We need leaders who can relate to us because they too have “fucked up.” I’ve written once before that we learn a lot from failure. How we overcome failure shows our character. As voters, we need to shed the idea of the perfect President. We can’t begrudgingly go to the polls. Rather, we must get involved more. Voting should not be a transaction. It is not a purchase where you expect the product to work perfectly immediately. Instead, voting is a promise and commitment to be involved. No government, throughout history, has succeeded without the participation of everyone in the community.

If you’re not happy with your candidate, then ask them how they will address your concerns. Pay attention to who is running for legislative positions. Also, care about your local elections.  But don’t simply vote then expect things to be better. All of us have to fight for what is right. We need to understand that when we help each other, we are helping ourselves. Lastly, we must understand that this election isn’t democratic values v. republican values. This election is about American values. It’s about Black lives mattering in every situation. It’s about women having control over their autonomy. It’s about making sure no one dies in a mass shooting. It’s about making sure that we all have healthcare because we can’t predict when we get sick, especially during a pandemic. These should not be up for debate. Simply put, they should not be controversial.

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I urge you to do more than register to vote. Read up on the issues. Donate, if you can, to candidates you believe in, who will listen, and who will learn. Go to city council meetings or attend rallies. Educate those around you on why certain issues aren’t controversial. Explain to those that a collective need helps us achieve our selfish needs. And, take no more than 10 minutes out of your day to learn about local politics.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned.

Published by Nikita Srivastava

a passionate feminist and social justice warrior who occasionally calls herself a goddess. She received her JD in 2019 and became licensed to practice law in 2020.

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