What a year, right? Riots, and protests, and TikTok, oh my! It’s true that our sense of normalcy has deteriorated into a puddle liken to the slime my daughter just smeared all over my carpet. We’ve been stuck inside for most of this election year, held hostage to our screens and the constant barrage of bad news. Graduations and proms were missed, while families remain distant and separated.

Businesses have shut down, looted, or intimidated into closing. Innocent people have been assaulted, murdered, and silenced. Women have given birth without family, forced into procedures, frightened, all in the name of a virus. People have died alone and others have succumbed to illness that would have been caught if not for the stringent lockdown restrictions.

Schools have closed and child abuse soared. Churches and addiction meetings have been shuttered while suicides climb to record heights. Politicians dine amongst friends while shooing the “little people” off to stay in their homes. Rules for thee and not for me, I suppose.

Hindsight truly is 20/20, and 2020 has been, without question, the most eye-opening year of my life. You see, amid the chaos and the celebration, I’ve discovered something in myself. I’m okay with being hated. And trust me, many readers of this will, in fact, hate me because I am tired of being coerced into silence. But maybe not, since anything that goes against Facebook’s narrative and algorithm gets shut down before the first share.

I am tired of being labeled a “dumb conspiracy theorist that never leaves the holler” because I voted Republican. The insinuation that right-leaning individuals are uneducated, hicks that don’t care for human life is not only wrong but disgusting. But the endless cycle of derogatory headlines did accomplish something. It brought me back to college, when I first felt the pressure to fall in line for the thought police, and the dissonance stirred inside me.

And when my obstetrician giggled behind a sarcastic smirk as I remarked that banning my husband from the birth of our child violated my rights as a patient, the anger poured out like volcanic ash coating everything for miles around. At that moment, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my tongue much longer.

See, the election and the fallout afterward brought something to light for me. As much as I liked to tell myself that I didn’t let politics consume me, I care, and I care a lot because what happens this year will affect the world my children live in. Their education, their economy, their employment will all be affected by the events of this year.

Here’s the thing, I’m a conservative-leaning woman.

I think it should be legal to enjoy marijuana at my gay best friend’s wedding to whomever he pleases. My husband should have the right to wear his gun wherever we go because the world is dangerous.

I don’t believe in late-term abortions. No, I would never have one myself, but I believe women should have the choice up until a certain point in pregnancy — barring life-threatening complications. I believe in God, or at least a higher power.

I believe children shouldn’t be indoctrinated into political parties while in school. They should be educated on the facts and then allowed to make their own choice. I believe less government is the best government. We aren’t infants. We don’t need supreme leaders to hold our hands and tell us what’s good for us.

And yes, I believe censorship is a problem. It pulls us into a vacuum where only the “right” beliefs are echoed back. It strikes a blow to the divide, widening it like splintered wood in a decaying tree. Lastly, it silences healthy opposition that would provide the checks and balances our founders deemed so important to this country.

Most importantly, I believe that this divide between us, as Americans, is manufactured. See, I don’t care what others believe as long as they don’t impose those beliefs on me. Do what you want. My question is, why am I hated for holding my values?

I’ll be ostracized by these words in many circles. How dare I imply that I like President Trump? How dare I consume news that isn’t a mainstream media? And how dare I investigate events and policies for myself? It’s blasphemous in our culture, going against the left. But aren’t we getting tired? Aren’t all of us getting tired of being pawns in the system that is failing us?

Do I think the right president will fix the world’s problems? No. But we, as a society, have been funneled into believing a certain way. We’re told one man is racist while another thinks voting for him is the only way to be deemed as “woke.”

Meanwhile, he thinks he’s owed minority votes and completely endorsed identity politics. The news and explicit content of a certain laptop has been covered up. That’s been confirmed, but not if you only listen to CNN. Don’t you think we deserve the facts to make judgments for ourselves?

To the eyes that read this or roll their way down the page in contempt for my views, it’s okay if you write me off as some crazy Trump Train cultist. You have the right. No one can take your right of thought or free speech from you, at least, not yet.

Breanna is a freelance writer that lives in the hills of West Virginia. Her work can be found in Harness Magazine, Motherscope Magazine, and a handful of literary journals.

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