The morning after the second presidential debate I woke up nauseated and bereft. One candidate continued to prove she is more than capable to be a president and Commander-in-Chief on behalf of all Americans, and the other continued to prove he is a reactive, misogynistic, racist bully with no interest in anyone but himself. And though many news sources admit that Hillary Clinton managed to be "the only adult on stage," and that she survived the debate with composure, presence of mind, and grace, not enough have provided sufficient context for the aggression and baseness that threatened to destabilize her.
So, to recover, I choose to reflect on this past weekend when my husband and I engaged personally with a wide variety of Americans, outside of our circle of friends (or Facebook friends), at shopping centers in Northern Philadelphia. We were there to register voters before the Pennsylvania's registration deadline on October 11th.
As gratifying as it was to make sure citizens were able to exercise their right to vote on November 8th--especially those who needed help navigating the system--more significant was the human contact we were able to make with so many specific individuals, and the opportunity to recognize how this election will affect each of them.
I'll never forget the sweet, soft-spoken college student who wanted me to know that he is Muslim and that-- now that he is registered for the first time!--he will be voting for Clinton. The dozens of African-Americans who smiled with personal and patriotic pride as they explained they had been voting for the past sixty years, and that they would be there on Election Day. The man of Turkish descent who looked me in the eye and said to me, passionately, "In the past twenty years I've been a citizen there hasn't been an election as important as this one." The countless women of various races and ethnicities who smiled, and told me they "can't wait to pull the lever." The young gay man from Mexico who is registered but who did not plan to vote because "politicians are all the same," but who appreciated my willingness to ask questions about his life, and plans for the future, and concerns about members of his family who could get deported if Trump is elected, and who openly listened to my perspective--as well as to that of the shoppers and employees who overheard us and felt compelled to chime in--and who seemed genuinely grateful for this exchange. The many folks who thanked us for volunteering, brought us coffee, and cheered on democracy. And of course, no less significant were our interactions with the (mostly white, but not all) people who were palpably desperate and ANGRY, and whose declarations that they would be voting for Trump--as a way to "stick it to Washington"--seemed to be a source of agency among what might be limited sources in their lives. As well as the puzzling and frustrating large number of apathetic people (mostly young, mostly white but not all) who seemed to think that their vote has no value whatsoever--and who I reminded that their voice matters as they pushed past me with intense leave-me-alone vibes.
This election is about the real people with real lives who make up our country. It's not a reality show, a video game, or a cage match. Our vote is not a chance to choose America's next top entertainer, survivor, or bully. It's our civic duty to make sure that our country is led by someone who is capable of upholding our core values. America is about freedom and opportunity for all, not just a few.
Please think of all of us when you pull that lever in November, not just yourself. And consider volunteering, especially on or near Election Day. Especially those of you who live in or nearby swing states. Please do what you can to ensure that everyone who CAN vote DOES vote.
#strongertogether #vote #itsnotjustaboutyou!