I am an atheist, and I voted.
I am an atheist, and I voted absentee in Florida’s 2014 general election.
I am a long, long way from Florida right now, and I quite expect to remain so long-term. I’m in a field where half of the positions are unambiguously terrible and the other half assume that one can migrate thousands of miles every few years for the privilege of working in them. The luxury my parents enjoyed of being able to pick a place based on such prosaic concerns as “family” or “weather” has been systematically denied to young academics in general and my generation in particular, and that means that, even if I wanted to live in a place with Florida’s farce of a political scene, I will likely never have that privilege. If South Florida is even still above ground by then.
I voted absentee even before I left Florida, because I refuse to enter a church for any reason other than admiring old architecture or otherwise expanding my educational horizons. I voted absentee this time because, even if I put down roots somewhere else, another state, another country, another continent, voting matters. What happens in Florida affects people who matter to me, and I am going to vote to improve their lot even if they go out of their way to damage it. But even if I didn’t have those connections, those friends and family who make my Florida vote personally relevant, Florida matters to everyone. The way that the American political system is structured and Florida’s demographics combine to make sure that the outcome of this specific 19.55 million people has massively outsized importance in determining American national elections, and the outcome of American elections changes the world.
I will vote in Florida as long as I possibly can, as long as Florida is my legal US residence, as long as the US’s weird rules about income earned abroad don’t make this privilege eventually cost me thousands of dollars, as long as it keeps on apparently not mattering that the address on my voter registration, despite several attempts at correction, remains the address of the Miami-Dade Department of Elections, where I strongly suspect no one actually lives.
I am an atheist, and I voted because an alarming fraction of Miami and Miami-Dade County and Florida and the United States of America does not know its own history and votes against healthcare for all, against secularism, against justice, against equality, against its own future, and the only way to make sure they do not get the burnt-out husk of Christofascist dystopia they pine for is for me and the many people like me to make sure that they do not vote unopposed.
I am an atheist, and I voted because the freedom to choose when to be or not be pregnant, when to have or not have sex, when to have or not have one’s behavior circumscribed by religion—those are questions that religions tell people to be wrong about, and I want my country to be right.
I am an atheist, and I voted because I want the transcendent beauty of Florida’s coral reefs and River of Grass and curious birds and relic reptiles and charmingly hotheaded mangrove crabs to still be there when my offspring ask their father what it was like growing up in a place where walking the dog shirtless in December is normal and South American parrots are invasive species.
I am an atheist, and I voted because I want my QUILTBAG friends and family and all of the people I left behind to have a better Florida and a better United States, because I am sick and incensed and spluttering with sad rage that their basic humanity is something that Florida refuses to understand without a goddamn court order and voting is the tool I have to try.
I am an atheist, and I voted because the people who got voted in last time turned down the Medicaid expansion that came with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and were not instantaneously transposed into prison cells with a sentence for several million murders by medical neglect, so bringing the US’s and Florida’s clusterfuck of a medical system that little bit closer to developed-world standards will have to proceed another way.
I am an atheist, and I voted because the US’s economy in general and Florida’s economy in particular depend on a massive disenfranchised, effectively enslaved class of prisoners, migrant workers, and others who are excluded from the democratic process and basic human decency, and if no one hears them, they will hear me relaying their grievances.
I am an atheist, and I voted because the legalization of marijuana (capitalist implications aside) is a massive boon to patients, recreational users, and society at large nearly on par with the repeal of Prohibition, and too many people are wrong about that.
I am an atheist, and I voted.