Back on May 21, Jim Wright (@Stonekettle) posted a long thread about how Republicans control such a large portion of government because liberals don’t show up, or only show up every four years, and ignore the state legislatures who choose electors and establish voting laws. He pointed out, repeatedly, that the only way to win is to show up. The only way to reform anything is to show up and vote. (I’d link the thread, but I’m not finding it in Google, and Twitter history doesn’t go that far back.)
And, yes, there are people who can’t vote. They don’t have the cash to order their birth certificate from another state so they can get an ID that will be accepted at the polls. Or their polling place isn’t accessible with their disabilities. Or neither of their two minimum wage jobs will let them out of a shift to vote, because *they* aren’t scheduling them for the whole day, but when you factor in both shifts and transportation between the two, there’s literally no time in which they could vote that the polls are open.
These are all real problems. For some people, they’re solvable problems. There’s a nonprofit who will help them get ID or a coworker who’ll cover a shift or a friend who will drive them to their polling place. For others, they aren’t. It’s not my place, as a mostly (if not entirely) able-bodied white chick with my own car and a reasonable employer, to tell someone in one of these situations that they *can* vote if they just try hard enough. It’s not my place to tell someone with a painful disability how long they *have* to stand in line outside to do their civic duty.
And yet, none of those completely real and completely valid problems changes the fact that if we don’t show up, en masse, we are all fucked.
Yes, there is all manner of cheating. Gerrymandering and cancellation of early voting and closing of DMVs and polling places. It’s abhorrent. But the winning team picks the refs. There is no higher authority we can realistically appeal to to make our elections fairer. (The UN observes, but has no power to *make* the US do anything.) Either we win the game, we pick better refs, and we make the rules fairer, or we lose, the other team cheats more blatantly, and our chances of ever winning get slimmer and slimmer.
And, despite the analogy, this isn’t a game. We lose, people die. People are already dying because we lost in 2016.
So, if you can vote, you need to vote. Every general election, every primary, every position. The county commissioner and state legislator in your area have tons of power to affect your life. Not only that, but being mayor or state delegate or holding some other local office is how people get the experience to run for Senate or governor or President. If you want more women and POC in Congress, then you need more women and POC on the school board and in the state assembly.
If you’ve got hours to look up the candidates, great, do that. If you’ve got ten minutes, spend that ten minutes on Vote411 or Ballotpedia and make the most informed decision you can. These sites will let you print out a custom ballot to take to the polls.
If you can do more than show up, do that. If you can register people to vote, do that. If you can drive people to the polls, do that. If you can donate money to the NAACP or VoteRiders or the Progressive Turnout Project, do that. If you can run for office next year, great, do that.
Those of us who are able to vote need to show up. Those of us who are able to help others show up need to do that. This is made more urgent, not less, by gerrymandering, voter suppression, and Election Day not being a national holiday.
I’d also like to stress that not being inspired is not a reason not to vote. Not liking either candidate is not a reason not to vote. As a Quaker-flavored progressive Christian, I generally don’t feel it’s my place to impose moral duties on other people. But I’ll make an exception for voting. (Again, I want to distinguish between “can’t” and “don’t feel like it.”) It’s a civic duty, not a fun hobby. And it matters. It’s literally a matter of life and death for many people. So, if it’s in any way possible for you, please, for the love of all things good and holy, show up and vote.