Voting by mail has been the norm in Colorado for decades and ballots are finally being mailed out. I’m eager to speak my mind and will drop my ballot at the county building dropbox before Election Day.
The importance of voting in the presidential election was seeded in my brain when I overhead my parents having an explosive argument in the kitchen of my childhood home. Perhaps one of my earliest memories. My mother sat at the table screaming at my father while he fixed himself a snack at the counter. Kittie demanded to know who he voted for; Chet insisted it was a free country and he didn’t have to tell anyone how he voted. It was the Eisenhower/Stevenson election in the mid-fifties. She was furious and accused him of not voting for Adlai Stevenson. My father, a World War II veteran, I later realized, would have voted to reelect the general. I would observe my mother, years later, hissing at the television as Nixon spoke to the nation as president.
Aside from the presidential election, which I will return to later, there are always a list of questions and initiatives on the Colorado ballot, posed by the state or county or by popular petition, twelve this time. Each one requires thought and research, and celebrates the ability, in this country, of the populace to form issues and decide about them. This round’s questions include such diverse topics as paid family and medical leave, reintroduction of gray wolves, support for electing the president by national popular vote, and expanding tobacco taxes to cover vaping, to those that seek to be more restrictive of our personal lives in areas of voters’ rights and abortion. I’m all for the positive and helpful and consistently vote against the restrictive.
It has always seemed to me that the Republic party stands for “money in my pocket” (my phrase), supporting anything that furthers and protects personal and corporate wealth, with little or no regard for whom it may harm, while Democrats and more progressive activists fight for human rights for all groups, trying more and more to be inclusive of race, sexual orientation, immigration status, economic station, disability. I am for people, not corporations or milli-billionaires. The right-wing argument against government control and regulation seems to be an excuse for economic freedom to rake in money, yet when it comes to our personal life choices and bodies, they want oppressive government control. Europeans pay more in taxes and don’t complain and promise less taxes every election, because the services they receive in health care, education, maintained infrastructure, and more, are worth it.
There are so many looming issues this year, with coronavirus incompetently dealt with on a national level, including the careless and thoughtless infection of the president himself and rampant among the White House staff while deaths mount and illness spreads, dire economic struggles, especially among unemployed, minority, and poor, activism and protests against racial injustice loudly and clearly speaking up, that some important issues are not getting the attention they deserve.
Immigrants are imprisoned for wanting a better life, escaping danger in their home country, and enduring life-threatening hardships to get here. The trauma we are cruelly inflicting on the children separated from their parents all but forgotten in a year of events that touch us more personally. The young people of DACA and their families fear deportation daily.
Voters’ rights. Why shouldn’t every person be automatically registered to vote? If the draft board, back in the day, could track every male and send them a notice on their eligible birthday, why can’t we consider everyone a voter and send them a notice confirming their registration? Former president Jimmy Carter, who has spent decades advising developing countries how to establish voting standards, has said that every voting place should follow the same process around the country in order to have equal voice. We need to do the same for federal elections.
I’m repeating myself here, but I feel I need to add a paragraph from a previous blog entry, Your Most Powerful Weapon (your vote): He and his cronies have spent the last four years destroying legislation and protections for the environment, for education, for civil rights, for immigration, for health care, and bolstering the pockets of big business and the wealthy at your expense. Allies alienated, international treaties trashed. Having already done all that, what do you think he would do with the next four years? This was just a hint of things that could come. Realize that if he gets another term, he will be unleashed. Violence against minorities and immigrants will be open and encouraged; authoritarianism will no longer hide; media will be shut down; there will be no illusion of working with Congress or anyone who is critical; dissidents will be jailed—it may be you.
It is still possible to turn the tide on those issues, although so much damage has been done. But what is at stake this time is the future of our democracy itself. The safeguards that have been established to preserve that government are falling by the wayside. The president has been whipping up white supremacist militias—out with their weapons to challenge Black Lives Matter protesters, spreading fears of civil war. Those right-wing extremists, sorry to say, for the most part, are the ones who hoard the guns.
Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.
– by Octavia Butler from her Earthseed series
excerpted in Brain Pickings by Maria Popova (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Let’s hope that some of the yes-men who bow to Trump in public, lying along with him, to avoid being personally attacked by him as they surely would be, have some integrity down deep in their soul when it comes to casting their votes. As my father said, no one will know how they voted. They are stacking the courts, including the Supreme Court (in flagrant disregard to the final words of the amazing, inspiring woman I am proud to share a name with), attempting to undermine the voting process in state after state, and lining up electoral delegates to try to outwit a popular vote loss. Let’s hope some of those delegates have enough integrity to be true to the voters and to realize we are headed into danger.
Vote. Just do it! Don’t regret later not being a part of this critical turning point. Let your voice be heard. Don’t let others decide this election for you. If there was ever a moment to come forward, it is now. As the Jewish proverb says: “If not now, when? If not you, who?”