Benedict Arnold in Hooker Boots or, Why I Didn't Vote

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Illustration for article titled Benedict Arnold in Hooker Boots or, Why I Didn't Vote

Full disclosure: I was raised in a very political family. My parents met during Robert Kennedy's campaign. They were with Senator Kennedy the night he was shot. My mother worked for Congressman Berman. My father held elected office in Los Angeles for sixteen years.

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One of my earliest childhood memories is of sitting on Mayor Tom Bradley's shoulders at the innagural gala. I remember looking down, down, down and feeling like I was riding on the shoulder of a giant.

Which I was. Both literally and metaphorically.

I remember holding my father's hand when he was sworn in the first time as City Controller. Even then, I understood that he had been charged with a tremendous responsibility. And I was so proud of him.

I am so proud of him.

I remember learning how to tapdance in the City Hall rotunda, my red patent leather shoes clickity clacking while I whirled and twirled next to the flag of California.

I remember the first campaign speech I ever gave. I was ten years old and running for Student Council on a platform for "greater cooperation between students and faculty. And five minutes extra for recess." I even quoted pieces of the US Constitution in my speech.

I remember that I was going to be the first Jewish woman president of the United States. Unless Dianne Feinstein beat me to it.

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So, the questions should have come as no surprise:

"Who did you vote for?"

I could have lied. I could have made up an answer. But let's be real: The campaigns run on enough bullshit already, and why add my own to the mix.

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So, here's the deal: I didn't vote in the US Presidential Election.

Yeah, I'm Benedict Arnold in hooker boots.

"How could you?" a relative asked.

"DON'T YOU CARE ABOUT AMERICA?" a friend typed all in caps on Facebook chat.

Oy.

Did I have strong opinions? Of course I did.

Do I care about America? Duh. My family lives there. Many of my friends live there. My children were born there.

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I was born there.

And one day, I may live there again. And if I do live there again, you can sure as hell bet that I will get my ass to the poling station and vote.

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So why didn't I vote?

Because hooker boots or no hooker boots, I cannot dance at two weddings with the same ass. It's true, I will always be an expat Barbie from LA (reluctantly) growing roots in Israel –- but I have chosen to live here now.

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I take the train from Lod to Jerusalem and back again for work. I drink hafuch on Emek Refaim. I do body shots at Jessica Bar on the Tayelet. I eat hummus at Samir's in Ramle. I listen to Galgalatz, and have a raging crush on Hemi Rudner and Geva Alon. I pay (too high) taxes and (too high) rent to a government in constant flux.

And reluctantly or not, I am putting down roots here: Hell, I planted a freaking pitango tree just last week.

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(Score one for a cheap metaphor! WOOT!)

And while it's true that I will always be from Los Angeles, and will probably always feel like an outsider here, voting to help determine an outcome in a country that is no longer my home feels like having my cake and eating it too.

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Voting is a huge responsibility. I take it seriously because that's how I was raised. And unless I have to live with my political choices in a very real way, voting for the president of a country that isn't mine right now just feels wrong. Because let's be real: my biggest concern when voting would be the well-being of my home. A country that is not the United States. So it feels like cheating.

But as we move out of this US election season and into the Israeli one, I am learning on the fly. I'm keeping my mouth shut and listening to others who have lived here for far longer and who understand the nuanced complexities in this country far better than I. And as I walk through the kibbutz and look up into the sky I am grateful that today there are no F-16′s slicing through the clouds.

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And yet, I know it is probably only a matter of time…

So, in two months, I will be heading to the polls to vote.


Sarah Tuttle-Singer, The Times of Israel social media director, is an LA expat (reluctantly) growing roots in Israel.

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This post originally appeared on The Times of Israel. Republished with permission.

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DISCUSSION

unsun
unsun

While I understand what you think, I am afraid I have to respectfully disagree with you.

I am a dual citizen of the US and Taiwan.

My family and I have flown back for every presidential election in order to vote there in order to vote for the candidate who is best for the welfare of Taiwan and the future of Taiwan because we have family and friends who live there and, we care about what happens to our homeland and our family and people in it. 27 hours of travel in coach is not a fun trip. I assure you. But we consider it our responsibility to make the effort and do so unless some other extenuating circumstance prevents us. (We can't do absentee because we don't live there, but because we were all born there, we are allowed to remain citizens.)

I honestly find it a privilege to be able to do this. Even though my home is here in the US and I really have no direct personal investment in Taiwan on a practical level, my extended family is there and they are raising their children there. It matters to me to support them and do my part. Taiwan's history and identity is filled with so much turmoil and struggle, with outside parties constantly attempting to use it to their advantage and benefit. These things continue today, albeit in a different more modernized and political sort of matter. But the stakes are no less high. I don't pay as much attention as I should, or would like, but fortunately I have friends and family who help keep me in the loop enough to feel like I am making an educated decision.

Voting is one of those special rights that if you can do it, you ought to. Not really for your own personal benefit, but for what you feel is right and best for the future. Does it benefit me to sit cramped on a plane and spend thousands of dollars to vote in a country I haven't lived in for over three decades? Probably not. My life is here in the United States. I am proud to be a US citizen and if I were asked to choose, I am a US citizen first and foremost. (I was so nervous this campaign season, I am really relieved at the outcome. Afraid to think positively because I had been so sure when George W Bush was running that there was no way he would win either time... ha.)

But that doesn't mean I forget about my heritage and where I came from. And since I am allowed an opportunity to do something there, I will always try to.