Tomorrow might be Halloween, but there is something much scarier on the horizon. Tuesday is Election Day – in case you haven’t heard from the incessant social media posts, commercials, news stories, articles, knockdown, drag out fights between relatives and in Philadelphia there are even planes flying over the city reminding people to vote. Much like Michael Myers in the “Halloween” movies, it’s pretty hard to escape the election.

It seems like every election in my lifetime has been touted as the most important election of our lifetime. But something feels different this year. We are on the brink of an economic collapse, a pandemic has killed almost a quarter of a million people in the U.S. alone, people are more divided than ever before, and racism has been running so rampant that bigots are no longer ashamed of their actions.

Four years ago, I was heavily involved in the election. I campaigned for Hillary, going door-to-door to help get the vote out. We had people yell and taunt us – and this was in Philadelphia, which is considered a more progressive city. On election night, I sat in disbelief. I was out seeing a friend perform and we left the bar because, as he said, “let’s get you home before you start crying.” I never did cry, just sat in shock.

I couldn’t believe that my own parents had voted for Trump, especially because the weekend after the election they flew back to Pennsylvania to attend my brother’s gay wedding. Apparently, my family was worried I wasn’t going to speak to my parents, or possibly even cause a scene at the wedding. I did neither. There were plenty of other scenes happening at the wedding, as some of the guests climbed to pose with the naked Grecian statues.

What has ensued during this current administration is a feeling of dread every morning. What did Trump say today that will lead the news? How will his policies affect people I care about? It’s been exhausting. At times, I’ve just had to shut down for a while because I couldn’t deal with the overload. It was like living in the bizarro world of “American Horror Story.” In fact, Ryan Murphy actually did a whole season revolving around the election a few years ago.

While I have long known who I was voting for, I am not the type to reprimand others for their voting choice. I don’t know their entire life story or what went into their decision. On the surface, it seems to be pretty evident that if you care about people and human rights and decency, you should vote for Biden. But rarely is anything that black and white. Rather than trying to persuade someone to my side (which, let’s be honest rarely ever works anyway), I have been trying to listen more about where they are coming from, to see if there is common ground that we can meet and discuss. If they are willing to have the conversation, maybe I can give them some things to think about, and I also get to see where they are coming from. It seems too often that people now feel the need to label themselves a liberal or conservative, and we end up in an echo chamber of opinions and ideas.

I had a conversation with my mother recently. She was planning to vote for Trump again. I will admit that this did floor me. How could she still be voting for Trump? But I listened and a lot of what she said was actually incorrect information about tax and health care plans. She is worried about being financial solvent and having to pay more out of pocket if Biden gets elected. We had a conversation and I explained to her what the truth of his policies were, but it didn’t sway her. She said she wanted to move forward and she didn’t feel he would be able to move the country forward.

It wasn’t until I dropped this truth bomb on her that her mind finally paused, “The Taliban has endorsed Trump for President.”

That gave her pause. “Well, maybe we’ll go with Biden.”

It’s crazy to me that it took an endorsement by the Taliban to get her to even consider voting for Biden. It’s the twist ending in the horror movie that you don’t see coming. But really, why did it take something so extreme? I feel like we missed a few other steps that should have been a dealbreaker – removal of LGBTQ rights for two of her four children, the loss of social security, or reproductive rights for her granddaughters. In the end, it really all came down to dollars and cents and she felt that over the last four years she has improved her financial standing.

She called me while filling out her ballot to ask about more of Biden’s policy stances before officially voting for him – at least she says she voted for him. When I asked for a picture as proof, she said the ballots were already in the mailbox. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt on this and hoping that she wouldn’t lie. But, I mean it is 2020, so who knows.

I am just scared for us as a nation that the bar is now set at the Taliban to get people to switch their votes. Like should that be Biden’s new campaign slogan, “Not endorsed by the Taliban 2020!”?

Regardless of how the election results turn out, all I can say is that I am exhausted from these last few years and I’m not sure my mental health can take four more years of the same. I need a good nap, a face mask, and maybe a President that isn’t prone to the same antics as my toddler nieces and nephews. With that said, I am not going to tell you who to vote for; rather just get out on Tuesday and vote based on what you believe is right and what will move this country in the right direction.

And in case you forgot, and need to hear it again – the Taliban endorsed Donald Trump for President.

Padraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome.  His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

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