Writer, Essays and Commentary

Power to the polls

The space-time continuum – broken by COVID-19. Days of the week are merely suggestions. Don’t ask me the date. I don’t have a clue. I know, however, the election is near. The sigh of relief from my lips when I received an email from the state saying my completed ballot was received could be heard from space. Now I wait to see if it’s actually counted.

Earlier this summer, I printed as neatly as I could 100 postcards urging people to request a mail-in ballot due to COVID-19. I donated some money. I bought pins and stickers. I tried my best to open the eyes of the willfully blindfolded who only watch one channel, to no avail, then channeled my energy elsewhere where I knew it might help make change happen. That helped me to combat feelings of uncertainty and hopelessness — about things we couldn’t do much about (the COVID new normal) and those we could (helping elected officials at all levels who don’t understand their job out the door in November).

A week ago today, I voted by mail. Years of Catholic school training made filling in the ovals completely and following the ridiculous directions about the multiple envelopes (inside and outside) a breeze. And now I practice patience and hope that the will of the people won’t be undone by created chaos / partisanship. I’m so tired of that.

There’s a lot to say about 2020, but spare energy with which to do so was not available. Even though things are maddening and depressing at times, for a couple of months it feels like it’s going to get better. I have no proof, just my gut. The pit that grew in my stomach at 3 a.m. on November 9, 2016, feels lighter and smaller than ever. I like to believe a reckoning is coming. In the moments of worry and dejection, I think of the people who’ve dealt with much worse for decades. The ones who bring chairs and snacks because they’ll wait all day to vote if they have to. Those who never give up even though the system is beyond slow to change most times. They helped to prod me along when things started to feel hopeless. I’m optimistic but remember that not everyone plays by the same rules. Karma eventually prevails, this year hopefully helped by an overwhelming majority who say, “Enough.”

No matter what happens next week, the fight will continue, always.

Along the way, even in times like these, some find joy. That’s grace. May we all benefit from their spirits and be inspired by their fortitude.

Lifted voices.
Power to the people.
Power to the polls.

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4 Comments

  1. Uncertainty and hopelessness. Yep, that’s the feeling. Every day.

    As for what I said at 3 a.m. on November 9, 2016… well it was quite simply: FUCK! I knew this would be bad, and that’s before the pandemic. Insert *sigh* here.

  2. Ally, it’s been a long 4 years. It’s been awful since norms and laws are foreign to selfish folks like him (and his enablers) and then the pandemic made everything worse. But it also brought some things into focus for some people. That’s a silver lining. Hold on to hope for change on Tuesday!

  3. Excellent post!
    Though I have no right to vote in your election I am still personally invested in this election through the fact that I have family, as well as many dear friends and business colleagues in the U.S.
    A change in direction towards valuing truth, facts, and sanity again would certainly be welcomed all over the globe. Sadly though, I fear it will only help on the short term.
    My view is that biggest threat to American democracy is how corporate money has been allowed to corrupt the whole political process. I feel it’s not so much that elected officials don’t understand their jobs, it’s that they don’t care because their job description has been changed to no longer be ‘for the people”. Instead, first and foremost they’re beholden to the unlimited corporate $$$$ that help get them elected.
    At times I wonder if the average American citizen understands how bad it is. I’m mean generally Americans take very little interest in what goes on in other countries. How many of them realize that there are literally no functioning democracies elsewhere on earth that allow corporate money to corrupt the political system the way it’s permitted in the U.S. ? It’s simply not possible to combine corporate influence with democratic principles and end up with results that genuinely reflect the ‘will of the people.’
    All the same corporations can’t vote, so getting real live people out to the polls is the first step. And at this point though, even some short term relief would be a welcome change.

  4. Thanks, Norm! Thanks for your great comment.

    Fact check: True! It’s always been amazing to me how little Americans are interested in government, and frankly, in reading, especially newspapers (RIP) and news sites that do deep dives into complicated issues. 30 second TV hits are the norm, and I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “The president didn’t used to talk like this on ‘The Apprentice'” and then I have to explain that reality TV is fake and scripted — and they don’t believe me. Part of the problem now, after years of the system being rigged, if you’re busy trying to survive, you don’t have time to be invested and involved in figuring out how money influences politics. Also, a lot of people don’t value education and therefore don’t learn, say, about psychology and how fear is a great motivator, and politicians know this and use it (just as one example).

    The reckoning I hope is arriving beginning Tuesday is 50 years in the making (enflamed by things like “shining cities on a hill” and other American exceptionalism ideas which have morphed into this idea that we’re better than everybody else). People get caught up in ideas like that, purposely stoked by politicians as a screen to hide the money aspect you speak of. It’s amazing to me how many people don’t bother to look past the show, below the surface, to see what’s really going on.

    This could be a time of great change, if people stay awake. I hope they do. I’m not sure how you convince people to get and stay engaged, especially with a fast food media diet (especially the far right, which is increasingly propagandistic) and, like I said, a lot of people just being busy trying to survive day to day. At the same time, the old white guard is dying off (slowly). Those who’ve enjoyed power who believe in more of an “us versus them” mentality are not likely to give it up or share it easily. That would be the cautious part of my optimism.

    If change comes, even short term, I hope we keep trying to get people to see what’s in their interest and what isn’t. Look hard, people, at who is trying to keep votes from even being counted, for instance. This period of time isn’t about differing policy views. This is about a few having power over the many, squelching the voices of the people if it differs from their own monetary and power interests. I’m ever surprised how many people can’t see that.

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