Why I didn’t vote in the last election

The word 'Vote' in large, lit-up letters

I was in New York on election day. I watched the results roll in, relieved that Theresa May got a bit of an arse kicking overall, but dismayed that her party won a dozen new seats in Scotland (WTF, Scotland? You know better.).

But mostly I felt…removed. Because I didn’t vote.

I think voting is great. If I could have, I would have voted this shit out of this election. I would posted “I voted!” messages on social media and given really annoying lectures about civic duty and responsibility, because I really believe that every vote counts.

(Case in point: Fife North East, where the SNP’s Stephen Gethins beat Elizabeth Riches of the Scottish Liberal Democrats by two votes.)

But I’m not allowed to vote.

I’m a permanent UK resident, but not a citizen – and without citizenship, you can’t vote. There are a few reasons why I haven’t applied for citizenship (the £1,200 naturalisation fee, for one), and for the most part, it makes no difference to my life. I can live here, work here, raise my kid here, use the NHS here…all that important stuff. It’s all good until an election comes around.

I sat in my parents’ house in New York and watched as the Tories won the majority of the votes, despite this whole Brexit disaster, and I thought:

Is Britain the right place for me?

I know what you’re thinking – as an American, my alternative is Trump. While I may not agree with Theresa May on pretty much anything, at least she’s not a crazy, orange meglomaniac who tweets literal nonsense and shares state secrets with Russia. He’s worse. I know he’s worse.

But my doubt about the UK in that moment wasn’t about politics, not really. It was about the fact that I had spent the past six days in New York. My daughter had bonded with my parents, spent time with my grandmother and met my childhood best friends – and their kids. She had eaten real New York pizza and bagels. She ran around the same yard where I had played as a kid, and played in the playground at the library where I had my first job almost 20 years ago.

This could be hers too, I thought.

Moving back to the US would mean giving up a life that Adrian and I have spent over a decade building for ourselves – careers, connections, friendships. It would mean turning our backs on a country that we love, despite its terrible weather and the locals’ obsession with putting milk in tea. It would mean giving up free healthcare, a crazily generous holiday allowance (as a public sector employee, I get over eight weeks off a year), and a work/life balance that allows us to build careers while still spending a lot time with our daughter.

But we would have family nearby. And bagels.

We’re not ready to abandon the UK – not yet. It would take something really big for us to shift our whole family across the pond, along with 11 years worth of stuff and a loud ginger cat. But damn, having family around is nice.

Also nice: American toilet paper. It’s like a blanket for your butt.

Lucy At Home
Rhyming with Wine
Bringing up Georgia

6 Comment

  1. Laura: Adventures with J says: Reply

    Okay… firstly… tea should have milk in it!! You can’t say the locals do it when it is the ENTIRE country!! Secondly… you live in just about the shittiest climate section of our dear land and if you love it there… well that says A LOT!! Thirdly… I have spent the last 10 years looking at leaving for golden lands elsewhere until in my most recent quest a couple of months ago when I realised that there was a reason I had never managed to go. It is simply that despite all (and at times they do bog me down and feel considerable) the faults of this country there is nowhere better to be right now. Germany – smokers everywhere! Spain – pay is appalling! And I mean £10k less to do exactly the same job! Australia – I haven’t been for awhile and to be fair I may give it a go if they would but really expensive and some issues with discrimination (much worse than here!) Yes we have issues and education is my biggest right now but it is still free and gun free. Yes the NHS has flaws but it is free and not segregated. Yes there is discrimination in pockets but I simply don’t see it where I live as everyone tolerates everyone else quite happily. Yes there are huge traffic jams and roads are at capacity but everything is so close and easy to get to. Yes there is no NY pizza but you can fly to Italg and get the real stuff in probably less time than it would take you to drive from your parents into the city (clearly I am guessing here!) Yes Brexit is shit but all in all it is a pretty incredible place to live! Come move near me!! It is awesome! We will be your surrogate family! Xxx

  2. If you couldn’t then that’s a shame. America is not for me though. I hate the gun laws and the way the police with guns treat people of colour. I don’t understand the rules and regulations there. #DreamTeam

  3. It’s pretty crap that you can work, pay tax etc and not get a say in the way the country is run. It’s not like those decisions won’t impact you 🙁 (And your post has made me appreciate the Maybot slightly. Although as a comparison, it’s not a great one!)

  4. I totally get the wish to be near family. Mine aren’t in another country but, at 5 hours away, it’s not exactly easy to pop in and see them. There is something lovely about seeing your kids bonding with your family and playing in the same streets that you played in as a kid. #dreamteam

  5. Just popping back again from #blogcrush. It’s always hard when your heart is divided between two places #blogcrush

  6. I wish there was an answer to this one. Being around family is bound to make you want to be nearer to them all the time. I, personally, live in my families pocket and would love the privacy of living even a street away at times. Or perhaps the balls to opt out. Nothing is forever, and your options are open. #BlogCrush

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