It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but today is the General Election here in the United Kingdom. As an American/EU national living (and working, and paying taxes) here, I can’t vote. But I have paid close attention to this election. And this election is giving me literal chills.
Actually, it made me cry.
I queued up outside a local public school to vote for Hillary Clinton on a chilly November morning last year. I was ecstatic. Elated. I was voting for the first woman president. We, as a country, were standing on the edge of a wonderful, new, exciting world of possibility. We were about to take a massive turn. And we did, but not for the better. I cried every day for a full week following the US election results. I cried with my friends, I cried with my mentors, I cried with my mom and my uncle. I cried on the bus on the way to work, at work with my coworkers. I cried. A lot.
When I relocated back to London, I felt a strange sense of self-imposed betrayal – that I had left my country, my friends and family, in peril. That I should have done, should be doing, more. But my life is here in London, so I returned to it.
I never liked Theresa May — not that one has to *like* a politician for them to be good at their jobs. There was something creepy about her – she almost made me give David Ike’s conspiracy theories some merit. She was reckless with every European nationals’ futures, cosied up to Tr*mp way too much, and her party stands squarely against my socio-economic policy opinions. I also never really liked Jeremy Corbyn. He was too inconsistent of a speaker – not like Bernie Sanders (the man I wished was my president) – and I didn’t think he worked hard enough for the remain campaign. I wasn’t sure he’d make a good PM, despite how badly I want Labour to be in charge of the government.
“Labour is the voice that says: ‘You don’t have to take what you’re given. You may be born poor but you don’t have to stay poor. You don’t have to live without power and without hope. You don’t have to set limits on your talent and your ambition – or those of your children.”
But none of that matters, because I can’t vote.
I try to withhold my opinion around people I’m not close to. It feels, strangely, like I’m not allowed to have one. I contribute to and benefit from the NHS, but god forbid I want our government to put it first. I am an EU citizen, but god forbid I want our government to secure our safety and futures. I am a woman, but god forbid I want our government to stand firm with its human rights laws. I am half Jewish, but god forbid I want our government to make this a country safe for Muslims, people of colour, and, LGBTQ+ folks.
Personal passions aside, in casual conversations about voting I towed the very British line. I expressed some personal opinions (May is jeopardising my entire future) and doubts (I don’t think Corbyn can scrap tuition fees) but resigned myself to simply watching from the sidelines.
And then I saw this.
And, you guessed it, I cried. Actually, I wept.
Of course, this video is supposed to play on (any decent human being’s) emotions. But boy did it work on me. The myriad feelings and memories of the 2016 US election, the aftershocks, the continued violence and hate was thrown into sharp contrast against… this beautiful, diverse, wonderful depiction of what Britain is – could be. Even writing this, I can feel that tightening in my chest, the sting in the bridge of my nose – the warning that I’m about to tear up. Being hopeful is a dangerous thing, it seems. Wanting more, wanting better, is a dangerous thing. But I do. I want more for the country I have fallen in love with – its incredible peaks and valleys, its stony shores and bustling, multicultural cities. Its sheep lined hills and Sunday nut roasts. I love this country. And because I love it, I want better for it.