by Joe Courter
Voting is the very least you can do when living in a democracy. It is also quite profound; people fought and died for your right to. That should go through your mind each time you have the opportunity to do it.
Does your one vote matter? Not really amid all the hundreds, thousands and millions of votes cast. Except it might, it might be the one vote that swings an election.
Voting is a small aspect of the process; the real key to voting is the right to magnify your vote. This is done by encouraging other people to vote, and to vote in a way that will better everyone’s life.
This can be done with a button, a bumper sticker, a yard sign, or a conversation. It can be done by aiding in a campaign for a candidate or issue. It can be with phone banking, door knocking, mailing preparation. It can be donations of money if you cannot afford the time.
When you vote there are many things on the ballot. The power of your vote is most powerful in the local races that have the fewest voters. Some of them may also be the ones that actually affect your life the most. Local candidates, referendums, charter amendments. Being not excited by the top of the ballot is a self-defeating reason not to vote.
And speaking of that, here we are. Being frustrated that the candidate of your choice is not the nominee still means there is the need to keep in mind the above, and not only for the sake of the down ballot issues. You do not need to love the top-of-ticket candidates, you do not have to park your ideals. You can look at it by taking the big picture approach. And in this year’s case especially, you have to vote in your self-interest, vote for which will do the least harm, vote for which will give you the most room to keep things moving in a direction that your ideals can come to fruition. Let 2016 be an object lesson. We need a massive turnout for Biden-Harris to make sure we defeat the growing authoritarian menace in the White House now.
And to those who feel they just can’t, this: voting is math, not a place to exercise your moral purity. Your third party vote, your protest write-in vote, only has the effect of a vote for Trump. There will be active efforts for a third party, a unified progressive party, in the coming year. By all means people should work for that, but that work comes later.
Lives are in the balance with this election. And there is reason for optimism; thanks largely to Bernie Sanders we have progressive issues like Medicare for All being openly pushed for. Thanks to Occupy, the income disparity symbolized by the 99 percent is in people’s minds. Young progressives like the Squad are getting into elected positions. Youth organizing from the Sunrise Movement to the folks in the streets are being heard. The internet and social media, for all its faults and hazards, has given us decentralized communications and information sharing. COVID has brought an opportunity to reexamine our lives and the way we live; it really sucks that it is happening, but, well again, here we are.
Stay safe, help each other out. Reach out if you can, and reach out if you need to. Be kind, we will get through this somehow.