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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Monday, April 18, 2016

One person. One vote. Seriously.

The calendar says that Spring arrived weeks ago but you couldn't tell by the cool temperatures. Here in the Mid-Atlantic we had snow flurries on Palm Sunday and frost warnings just the other night.

The calendar also says that the election of the next President won't take place until November - seven months away - but you couldn't tell that by the temperature of the political climate.

The narrative being pressed by liberal and conservative media alike is that the American people are angry. What we're supposedly angry about differs, of course, based on the view from the Left or the Right or the Middle.

Or, male or female. Or, Caucasian, Black, Latino/a, Asian. Or, Christian - Evangelical or Roman Catholic - or Jewish, and maybe - maybe - a few Muslims. Or, of course, a member of either the GI, Silent, Boomer, Gen-X or the current media darling, the Millennial generation.

The media outlets - who are the most direct beneficiaries of SuperPac money as well as private donations - are spinning 24/7, offering "analysis" of various aspects of American anger and how it will affect their support of various candidates, and inadvertently justifying - and feeding - the anger. Well, I hope it's inadvertent. I won't speculate on intention. That would make me too angry.

This anger, they say, is why we have extreme candidates on both sides of the political spectrum. Trump on one side and Sanders on the other.

I think that's a simplistic, stick-figure picture of reality.

The other Republican candidates are pretty "extreme" for me and, in fact, for many Republicans. While Sanders talks a lot about "revolution", most of his ideas are far from "extreme".  Indeed, he has pushed Clinton and the Democratic platform more to the Left.  For which I am grateful.

I'm not going to offer a counter-analysis about why "everyone" in America is so angry.

And, I'm not going to talk about the pro's and con's of each candidate - especially the Democrats. 

I simply want to talk about one very angry response I've been hearing with alarming frequency.

More and more, I'm hearing supporters of Bernie Sanders say that, if Bernie doesn't get the nomination, they aren't going to vote. For anyone. Period.

And, I'm hearing - not that I have heard it myself but I'm hearing that it's being said - that Hillary supporters are responding that, if Hillary doesn't get the nomination, they aren't going to vote. For anyone. Period. 

Now, that makes me angry. Very angry.

That's the thing about anger. It has the potential to destroy brain cells. Suddenly, mature, seasoned, responsible adults begin to sound like petulant, pouty four year olds. 

Look, I don't care if you don't like Hillary. You don't have to. And, I really don't particularly care if you don't like Bernie.

This is not a popularity contest. It's an election process for the President of the United States of America.

And, the stakes are very, very high. Pick an issue, any issue. Now, think of one of the three candidates from the GOP as President of the United States.

If you can recover from that image, stop and ask yourself:

Do I really want to throw my vote away?

Because, that's what you'll be doing if you stay home on election day and don't cast your ballot.

Every vote that isn't cast for the Democratic nominee strengthens the vote for the batshit crazy "conservative" candidate who may become the GOP nominee.

When I hear - or hear of - someone huffing that if their candidate doesn't get the nomination, they are not going to vote, I want to sit them down and tell them the story of the battle women had to wage in order to get the right to vote.

Take four minutes and give yourself the gift of enlightening yourself on the Suffragist Movement. 

If you've got a bit more time, watch the movie Iron-Jawed Angels. 

In case you didn't know, the 19th Amendment to The Constitution giving women the right to vote was ratified on August 18, 1920.  Yes, women have only been allowed to vote for less than 100 years. Yes, it took an amendment to The Constitution in order to achieve it.

And, it didn't happen easily. Watch the movie. Seriously.  You can watch Iron Jawed Angels on YouTube in its entirety here,

Just a warning, it's not easy to watch.  You'll see how women were beaten and jailed and placed in psychiatric hospitals and force-fed (strapped down and a tube put down their throats) because they were possessed of this radical idea that the Constitution of the United States of America provided them with the right to vote. Which they were being denied. And, they wanted that changed.

And then, we'll talk about the voter registration efforts that were part of the Civil Rights Movement, and I'll tell you the story of Episcopalian Jonathan Daniels who was jailed and then shot to death for helping people of color register to vote.

And then, we'll talk about the 1965 Voter Rights Act and how voter registration efforts continue today in places where there is an ongoing effort to erode voter rights.

And then, we'll talk about how the Supreme Court, by a unanimous vote, recently rejected a challenge to the fundamental democratic principle of one person, one vote.

And then, hopefully, you'll have a better understanding of just how important your vote is.

Yes, I know. Hillary has her faults.

So does Bernie.

See also: Not a popularity contest.

See also: The stakes are very high.

Yes, I know, the system is corrupt. I know the system needs to be changed.  I know, I know, we need a revolution.

"You say you want a revolution /Well you know /We all want to change the world." So sang revolutionary John Lennon.

And, everybody knows Les Miz: "Do you hear the people sing, singing the songs of angry men?"

It's hardly a new concept.

You think it's bad now? You should have seen it when the previous generation handed it over to us.  Or the one before that handed it over to them. Or the one before that . . . well, you get the idea.

So, now it's this generation's turn. And, unless you skipped Civics Class in the sixth grade, you know that the way stuff gets changed in a democracy is . . . wait for it . . . yes, you guess it . . . Vote.

You vote to elect people who think like you to re-present you in the highest levels of government.

And, if you don't vote, you not only don't use your civil right, you lose the right to complain.

I know. You're angry. Pissed.  I get it. I can't tell you how pissed I was when "hanging chads" resulted in Gore's loss to Bush. I can't even begin to explain my rage when the SCOTUS got involved and handed the election to The Shrub.

You get over it. You work harder for what it is you believe in.

And, you learn that while the pendulum swings both ways over time and that MLK was right that the arc of history bends toward justice, you also learn that you can help to push it there.

And, that the force that helps to change things in a democracy is your vote. Not political rhetoric, no matter how passionate. Not platitudes. Not anger. Not even a  'revolution' - not without a plan that includes the voice of the people through the democratic process of voting.

There is a lot of merit in the old saying: "Don't get mad, get organized!" 

So, here's my plea: Get angry. Don't get angry.

Your choice.

Your anger, in an of itself, isn't the point.

Here's what is: Don't get apathetic.

Please vote.

Hold your nose, if you have to, but vote.

One person. One vote.  That's how it works.

Because, no matter what the calendar says, the elements of the climate of this country - including the poor, and women, and people of color, and children, and immigrants and the environment and the economy and education and gun control and war and who gets elected to the SCOTUS - are depending on you and your vote.

If you think the weather is unseasonable now, things could get worse. Much, much worse.

My name is Elizabeth Kaeton and I approve this message.

NB: Please do take note that I did not say anything, one way or the other, about either HRC or BS. Those of you who simply can not help yourself and want to bash either candidate will find that your comment will be deleted.

Never confuse a blog with a democracy. You don't get a vote here.

See how that works?

You're welcome. 


Matthew said...

I do agree with Donald trump on one point. That when the voters go to a primary or a caucus they think they are voting. They think it counts. And then the party has a convention which selects delegates who actually select the nominee and that may be inconsistent with how people voted. I think that's fucked up. I don't know why the primary and caucus process itself cannot determine the nominee. And if no one gets 50% why not a rule that there is a run off election determined by the voters, of the two top vote getters.

I will vote and I have always voted, certainly in a general election. But we need to keep vigilant about the fact that sometimes our votes are taken away by much more sinister forces. I have about as much distaste for the rnc dnc convention processes as I do the electoral college which meant al gore didn't become president despite getting more votes.

We must vote but we must also point out the areas in which your vote doesn't count. I don't fault people for not voting in a primarily when they can't because they are not registered with a political party. I don't fault people for not participating in a caucus when it's held at a time that conflicts with your religious faith. Our whole system of voting needs an overhaul. I also don't fault people for not voting on Election Day when there are 5 hour lines and they are aged or infirm and the weather is dangerously hot or cold out and they just cannot take it anymore. The people I fault are the people who vote third party in places like Florida and other battleground purple states especially in close election years like 2000.

Unknown said...

Brilliant blog.
It is so easily transferable to our South African Situation.
Thank you.
May I share it, please?
Jane Mason

Shelley B. Kesselman said...

As usual, a voice of sanity in a sea of crazy. Thank you, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Matthew - points well made and well taken about some reasons people don't vote. Thank you. I hope you heard that my point was made directly at those folks who've been saying they won't vote if their candidate isn't the nominee.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jane - Thank you. Yes, please share.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mine is usually that of one crying in the wilderness. How crazy do things have to get for my voice to be the voice of sanity? LOL. Well, then again, this IS a sea of crazy.

Marthe said...

Totally. This is a thing we used to call civic duty. For the last few decades "we" have been so focused on defeating the rules of an unfair society that the point of having a society at all has been lost ... little things like a government that actually serves the needs of the people, civil discourse, reasonably peaceful neighborhoods -- much lost to generations more concerned with what they perceive to be individual freedom to do their own thing than the well being of the whole community. Has anyone else noticed that the big subject of movies and TV seems to be some version of apocalypse brought on by aliens or disease or environmental disaster? It's all about a total breakdown of society and the survivors living in brutal conditions dominated by the brutal. This seems to be the only logical outcome of societies unwilling or unable to imagine peace and community, much less work together to achieve either.
Any political figure swaggering toward violence, as if that is a good idea, a solution, is a part of that nihilistic defeatism ... and is probably not interested in actually helping anyone but his/herself ... enlightened self-interest demands that "we" not vote for anyone who would cheerfully write us off as unimportant little people of no value in order to meet their own goals. Sadly, there seems to be very little but swagger on offer this political season ... but I will vote for the least horrific option, no matter what.

8thday said...

I get exasperated with people who 1.) tell me how to vote in my "best interest" as if they know what my priorities are; 2.) say I have to vote for "x" because "y" can't beat "z" in the general election. However, I say, if "y" gets a lot of votes in the primary, his/her ideas will have a better chance of being included in the party platform; and 3.) people who don't vote but say that if "z" gets elected, they are moving to Canada. I wish they would.

I used to be very politically involved but these days I spend election days giving elderly folk rides to the polls, no matter what their party affiliation. It gives me a better political education than anything I read on social media.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe - "The least horrific option"- so sad that it's come to that in this country. Although, I felt pretty much the same thing when it was Gore v Bush. Not a huge fan of Gore but all you had to do was look in Dubya's eyes to know the lights were on but no one was home. And, if you looked closer, you could see the strings that were tied to Chenney's puppet sticks. As bad as this is, that was worse.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

8th Day - I hope you didn't hear me say to vote for any one candidate. Just vote. Anger and apathy are exactly the necessary mix for a demagogue to be elected. Driving elderly or disabled folks or folks in fragile health to the polls is the best way to spend election day. Good for you.

Colette said...

Nice. The voice of reason is so seldom expressed or heard these days.

8thday said...

No I didn't hear you say that. I wholly support your argument which is why I switched from just working for one political party to making sure ANYONE who wants to vote can get to the polls, no matter what their affiliation. I was just venting my own frustrations at people's anger and apathy. Sorry for the confusion.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

8th Day - Good. Just checking. I do believe in the two-party system and the right to vote will do anything to support a healthy democracy - even drive elderly GOP members to the polls if they need it.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Collette - I think that's because we've bought the media narrative that we're "angry". Oh, I suspect there are some angry people in America but I don't think we're all angry. Well, perhaps more of us are now, because we've bought into the narrative. It's important to remember that the one group to benefit most from SuperPac and individual political donations is "the media". I'm talking everyone from Fox's Megan Kelley to the arrogant Morning Joe on MSNBC to that sniveling, smart aleck media brat on NBC, Chuck Todd. They are the ones getting "rich and powerful AND famous" from corporate money. It's disgusting. I don't think this is what the Founders envisioned as part of the country they loved and dreamed into being.