If you’ve been friends with me for a few years, you know that every election year I post a blog about why you should vote. I talk about a woman in Thailand that told me how lucky I was because my government actually has to follow the constitution. I talk about Mugabe’s brutality and the struggle in Burma for democracy. Normally it’s my attempt to get out the vote and inspire some civic duty. I never say who to vote for. I get to use the same blog each year because my arguments are always relevant and I never felt the NEED to say who you should vote for. I believed in the principle of the vote so much that I kept my politics out of it and focused on the duty and the right.
But this year is different. I don’t have to inspire civic duty or remind people to vote. Because the public is more aware of this campaign and the importance of voting than I have ever seen. I DO feel the need to promote a side this year. A lot of people feel that way too, with the result that people are *sick to death* of being yelled at to vote and who to vote for!
So what do I write about? What do I post? How do I elevate the dialogue and appeal to those highest of democratic principles that I hold so dear? Principles written into law by deeply flawed men that I love and revere?
I don’t have an easy answer, but I know there is one group of people that holds all the power in this election so I’m going to talk to you: my millennials, my Bernie bros, my peers, my countrywomen. All the polls have Hillary winning tomorrow. Many of my friends are sighing sighs of relief. But I can’t. I can’t because I REMEMBER this year. I remember all my friends that said they could never vote for Clinton. I remember all my friends who said they would write in Bernie, or vote for Stein or just say home. And I remember 2 hours ago when I went head to head with a friend of mine who voted for Trump.
I have never once seen a post for Stein on my feed in the last 4 months. Not once. Instead my feed is filled all day every day with Johson and McMullin. My liberal friends are shocked when I tell them this. They are shocked when I say that my older sister loves Reagan, that my environmental activist little sister is voting for Johnson and that my childhood friend that was born days before me protests in front of planned parenthood. They can’t believe that there are people our age that are that conservative. They can’t believe I *actually* know Trump supporters. I think to them, Trump supporters are like unicorns. Or maybe a boogieman used to scare us into being good. And that concerns me. Because they are not unicorns or boogiemen. Trump supporters and conservatives are a real force in this country and it’s not something we can just wish away. If you struggle with Hillary, if you still mourn the Sanders loss, if you look at the polls and think “Maybe I CAN get away with a protest vote…” then I am here to tell you that you can’t. There is a whole other half of this country that are not like you or me. They’re mad as hell and they’re not taking it anymore! And their anger has made them powerful.
I don’t have to tell you what a disaster Trump would be. You know this. But if all of us stay home, if all of us decide to vote our conscience, then that disaster will happen. Please don’t take that chance. Please don’t gamble with the very democracy that we love so much.
The rest of society likes to shit on us, saying we’re entitled, lazy, unrealistic, idealists to a fault. Maybe we are. Maybe we aren’t. Maybe we are coming of age in a very difficult time, where rules are changing, power is shifting, and terrible consequences of long-ago choices are painfully felt. Maybe we look at these challenges and meet it with irrational, overwhelming hope that we CAN make things better. Maybe we’ve learned not to trust the old way of doing things and instead forge a brave new path, like the great generations before us. People like Bernie and Elizabeth Warren inspire us to run down that path. As well they should.
But we all know that we can’t run for ever and we can’t run for always. Breaking path is hard, often soul-crushing work. (If you don’t believe me, try hacking your way through a tropical rainforest… it SUCKS). Does that mean we give up? NO. But it does mean we grow up. It’s time we take control. It’s time we come to the table. Our ideals profit us nothing sitting around the drum circle, or philosophizing over a cup of coffee, or meditating on a yoga mat. And they really don’t help us when we’re working three part-time jobs while looking for anything full time that is even remotely related to our degree. If we really care about changing this world, we have to SHOW. UP. It’s our time to take control.
We’re not 18 years old anymore. We are 30, underpaid, saddled with debt and smart as fuck. Let’s put our ideals to work. Let’s elect the first woman president in US history. Let’s annoy the hell out of that woman every day of her four years to make sure she is speaking for us. Because it’s on us now. We can’t spend the rest of our youth blaming the establishment or baby-boomers or bible-thumping Christian fundamentalists. Why? Because we out number them. This society, this country, this democracy is ours for the taking. All we have to do… is vote.
So, are you with me?
Good. Cuz I’m with her.