The mid-term elections have come and gone, and even though a few votes are still being counted, most races have been definitively called. If you participated in our democratic process, then cheers to you! If not, I have to ask why? I mean this in all seriousness, because it seems to me a privilege worth engaging in, and so, I am curious why you don’t feel the same. I am of course very pleased to report that 49 percent of eligible voters did in fact recently cast their vote. Big turnouts are the new trend according to FiveThirtyEight. Long lines, curtailed polling hours and sites, endless reasons not to bother, all plague the process, however, nearly half of voters endured what they must to have their voice heard. Still, over half didn’t. Were the obstacles too great? Or was it in reaction to the unresponsiveness of government to your concerns? What halts one’s civic duty? I hope, more will cast an educated vote the next time around. This is truly one of our greatest rights as Americans. Still.
My baby brother, (who like most baby brothers, seems like one perfect human, in his charity and disposition), is a fierce proponent of the voting process. It’s not because it’s easy for him. In fact, of late, he’s been like a man out of step in his neighborhood, from driving an electric car to powering his home with solar panels, those living up and down his block laugh off his attempts to rein in the Texan big footprint. He’s a true blue Democrat living in a blood red state, but despite it all he’s knocking on doors, speaking with countless people, all to encourage them to engage in the process. Sure, Tate Donovan, is indeed a superhero on screen, but let me tell you, he has worked overtime to support voting and deserves the moniker. The following letter, which he sent to friends who didn’t engage in the process, is one avenue for you to hear his passion.
I am so proud of this man, for all that he stands for, and for his infectious desire to make this planet a better place for all of us. Keep making the good trouble my brother!
Tate Donovan is only one of oh so many people working behind the scenes to encourage and ease the voting process. Michelle Obama might have left the White House, but she never left encouraging others to use their voice for change. With her public platform, much like my brother’s, she is working to bring people into the democratic process. “When We All Vote is a leading national, nonpartisan initiative on a mission to change the culture around voting and to increase participation in each and every election by helping to close the race and age gap. Created by Michelle Obama, When We All Vote brings together individuals, institutions, brands, and organizations to register new voters across the country and advance civic education for the entire family and voters of every age to build an informed and engaged electorate for today and generations to come. We empower our supporters and volunteers to take action through voting, advocating for their rights, and holding their elected officials accountable” (When We All Vote).
This process, to change generational disengagement, or erase the easy cynicism, takes time, and much effort, but if we really are going to elect speakers for our rights, and hold them accountable, we have to be willing to get messy, listen when we want to talk, and allow for all the voices to bounce into the mix. My spouse currently works for the League of Women Voters of Vermont, and daily she reminds me of the lifetime of service these volunteer organizers have given over to support this bi-partisan effort to encourage others to raise their voices by voting.
It was impossible to not feel the hopelessness created by the divisive Trump presidency, the COVID pandemic, and all the trouble both caused. This is not debatable. I am the first to admit to that downcast sensation. In fact, my lunch crew has been held hostage to much of my negativity as of late. I guess I listened to the polls too much, or perhaps those easy emotions of skepticism infiltrated my mind before Election day. Thankfully, I cast my vote regardless, although, in the future, I am determined to not allow the pundits space in my mind. I will try, as I must, to remember the very wonderful core of most people, who want to aid and thrive, and vote with hope in mind, instead of fear.
Nothing really speaks of the essential need to vote more than Kyle Tran Myhre’s poem, which floated around social media for a bit last week. Perhaps you saw it? Read it? I would recommend that you do so again, and again, and again, and …
Perhaps you live in one of the many states that has made voting difficult, nearly impossible, and you are surrounded by those who would prefer you not voice your concerns? Even more reason to demand change. “Remember, there are children inside.”