Ryan readies himself for first Presidential Election

Election Day on Nov. 3 will be Colin Ryan’s first Presidential Election. He’s lived in the U.S. for 10 years, becoming a U.S. citizen and registered voter in 2018. He lives in Monticello with his family: wife Lindsey and two kids, Nicholas and Aisling. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     In July 2018, Colin Ryan of Monticello, an Irish immigrant, became a legal U.S. citizen. At the time, it was Ryan’s goal to become a registered voter so he could vote in favor of the new Monticello Middle School.

     That vote successfully passed and students and teachers started the new 2020-21 school year with a new 5-8 middle school.

     “We have a new middle school because people voted. Elections matter,” said Ryan.

     Today, Ryan marks his 10th year living in the U.S. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Ryan will also celebrate another milestone: Voting in his first U.S. Presidential Election.

     Ryan was able to caucus in the 2018 Midterm Election, his first time doing so.

     “It was fantastic,” he expressed. “That’s the part you don’t see in Ireland. It’s a granular democracy.”

     Ryan said it was “awesome” seeing open conversations about the different candidates and platforms.

     Back in his home country of Ireland, Ryan describes the political system as that of “proportional representation.” There are several political parties and coalitions.

     “There’s more civility and less elections,” Ryan said of the six-week timeframe. “Debates are civil.”

     Because elections in Ireland are publically funded, the campaign season is shorter.

     “They raise a small amount of money, while we’re caught up in it here,” Ryan said by comparison.

     In his younger days before he married and had kids, Ryan was relatively politically active in Ireland, much like young people in the U.S. today. Then he got into standup comedy, and used his values and political leanings in his act.

     As he prepares to vote in his first Presidential Election, Ryan said it’ll be a big occasion for him.

     “I’ve integrated,” he said. “I have a better understanding of the culture. I know where I stand on the issues at this point in my life. I know most of what my decisions are.”

     He plans to vote in-person, pending he hasn’t contracted COVID-19 or isn’t showing any symptoms. Ryan gets tested on a regular basis. He also took Election Day and the following day off work.

     “After 10 years here now, I have the right to vote. I’ve been here long enough. I’m not a guest intruding at the party. It means a lot in that way.”

     Not only is Election Day a momentous occasion, Ryan also plans to run a half marathon on the Monticello track following casting his vote.

     “Running takes my mind off things,” he said.

     In preparation, Ryan has been running 4 miles every morning versus distracting himself with social media.

     Four years ago, Ryan said the 2016 election proved to so many that they had no control over the outcome. For him it’s important to focus on what he can change, focus on himself, verses the things he can’t.

     “That’s helped a lot,” he said.

     Having been in the U.S. now for 10 years, Ryan said he feels both American and yet still Irish.

     “There’s a lot of grief when you leave the country you’re from,” he explained. “You’re no longer part of it.”

     There’s an old adage that sees the U.S. as a melting pot, and Ryan said that’s still true today.

     “It’s all about globalization, in that Americanism has left its own borders and spread to the world,” he said. “It’s created the global citizen. People come from other places to make a home here.”

     And that’s exactly what Ryan did. He met his wife, Lindsay (Randolph), and followed her to the U.S. where they made a home and family for themselves.

     “I’ve felt nothing but welcome here,” Ryan said. “People have been wonderful to me, but I can only speak to my own (immigration) experiences.”

     He does not see the U.S. as a homogeneous country, but one with a “series of identities and views, which is its greatest victory.

     “America strengthens diversity,” added Ryan.

     With the Nov. 3 ballot full of local, state, and federal candidates from which to choose, Ryan said he’s been impressed with the local level of politics.

     “There’s local engagement, which is cool,” he said. “You don’t see that in Ireland.”

     However, Ryan said with a two-party system, there seems to be the mindset of right and wrong.

     “Tribalism is not healthy,” he said of group loyalty. “I have no interest in that.”

     With young kids at home, and a wife who teaches elementary school in Monticello, Ryan said they speak openly with their children about values and beliefs.

     “We’re open about why we think that way. We want them to think for themselves, to be engaged.”

     Sadly, Ryan said even at a young age, politics comes up at school. Even the concept of wearing a facemask, which is required in Monticello schools, has turned political.

     Ryan urges all registered voters to cast their ballots on Nov. 3.

     “People have sacrificed for us to have the right to vote,” he said. “It’s not taken lightly or guaranteed.”

     Ryan acknowledged that while a democratic system has its flaws, “it’s the best system out there.

     “Voting is a duty, not a choice.”


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