“Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” ~ Susan B. Anthony
“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world.” ~ Sharon Salzberg
“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” ~ Abraham Lincoln“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Time is running out for many Americans to register to vote in the upcoming — and crucial — Midterm elections on Tuesday, November 8. In some states, it might be too late to register; for others, there might still be time. If you have not yet registered to vote, or are not sure if you are registered, go to the usa gov website.
As an American citizen, your vote is your superpower!
And based on the quotes above, there are some key points we Americans need to understand about our ability to vote.
Our Vote Is Our Right, Responsibility and Reward
- Millions have fought for Americans’ right to vote and govern their own country — including winning the vote for African Americans, women and others — through wars, protests and Amendments to the Constitution. Thousands have died doing so. By exercising our right to vote for ourselves and our country, we also honor those sacrifices.
- Our vote is not just for elections; it is to signify to other Americans and the world that we are committed to our democracy for the long run, and are exercising our rights and responsibilities to vote in order to maintain that democracy.
- One way to avoid war and violence is to vote for candidates who will produce laws and policies that will exhaust peaceful and diplomatic ways to settle differences before resorting to foreign wars, and to pass and enforce laws that reduce violence within our country. If all Americans participate in every election — national, state and local — that can result in the ballot stopping bullets.
- When someone withholds their vote — for any reason — they are remaining silent on critical decision-making. That is an abdication of the voter’s responsibility to self-govern and problem solve, essentially giving away their power, their rights, and likely their way of life as they know it.
- My take on the Roosevelt quote is that voters must thoroughly educate themselves on the issues and candidates, not that they must have a formal education. Reading, watching news and commentary shows, talking with trusted individuals, studying history and performing other diligence will provide information and insight that equip voters to make wise choices.
As we head into the Midterms, Americans have voiced their top issues. These issues have shuffled and reshuffled in their order throughout the spring and summer and into autumn. I have done my own reshuffling, based on my own priorities. But whatever the order, every one of these issues affect all aspects of our present and future lives, and I’d like to share with you my views on each:
- Preservation of Democracy – My disquiet over the past several years over the violations of etiquette and decency in word and deed evolved into outright alarm as the rule of law was routinely flouted by our nation’s leaders. Those behaviors culminated in the January 6 insurrection, followed by the former President reportedly illegally removing government documents from the White House. We’ve seen domestic terrorism grow, a major political party seemingly morph into an extremist cult, and the spouse of a U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice apparently participate in trying to overthrow the legitimate 2020 presidential election outcome! Voter suppression has gone beyond the pale, and poll workers, librarians and school board members are fearing for their safety as they simply do their jobs. Even the Supreme Court of the United States appears to have become politicized as it overturned nearly a half century of law protecting women’s reproductive freedom with one justice stating he is in favor of “reconsidering” laws governing marriage equality for the gay community and contraception. It boggles the mind and should strike at the heart of every American who cherishes freedom. I came of age during Watergate, so I know what a threat to democracy and national security looks like. What is happening now is exactly that, but by comparison makes the Nixon era look like a Disney slapstick montage. Therefore, I support candidates that will take us forward not backward, and that favor preserving democracy and freedom over transitioning to autocracy and tyranny.
- National Security – Our country has faced watershed moments in our history that have threatened our national security, including the many wars — hot and cold – in which we have engaged, from the Revolutionary War to the recent wars in the Greater Middle East. Right now, the U.S. and the world face the most serious global threat of war since WWII, as well as the most alarming nuclear threat since the Cuban Missile Crisis, from Putin’s Russia. It will take experienced and clear-eyed leaders to create a strategy to prevent a nuclear incident or another world war. I support those leaders.
- Climate Crisis – The cause of climate change was first identified two hundred years ago. It has become known as “the greenhouse effect.” During the 1970s, the world became more aware of global warming. By the 1990s, scientists and government leaders were sounding an alarm that fell on too many deaf ears. But by the turn of the 21st century, the problem began to sink in and real concern emerged among the more enlightened. Leading the way was former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. The current U.S. President and Congress recently passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which — shamefully but thankfully — for the first time in our history includes funding for addressing climate change and its destructive forces. Meanwhile, we continue to battle increasing wildfires, draughts, floods, tornadoes, extreme heat, tropical storms and monster hurricanes that take and ruin lives, destroy homes and property and cost billions of dollars in repairs and restorations. Currently, repeated storm destruction has hit Puerto Rico and a hurricane is bearing down in catastrophic slow motion on Florida.
- Women’s Reproductive Rights – Fact: There can be no equality for women without reproductive freedom. Every woman has the right to choose whether or not to become pregnant or continue a pregnancy, and a right to reproductive healthcare. Before New York State legalized abortion in 1970, life was grim for women who did not wish to be pregnant. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I had experiences with friends who did not wish to continue their surprise pregnancies before and after the legalization of choice, and the difference was a fraught and frightening experience with an uncertain outcome versus going to a hospital and being tended to by doctors who did not have to look over their shoulders. Three years later, all Americans were afforded relief and their Constitutional freedom as Roe became the law of the land. With all that is going on today, I recalled my miscarriage at 12 weeks of a pregnancy that my husband and I very much wanted. That was a physically and emotionally painful experience, but imagine if that had occurred today and I lived in a state where, under the threat of prosecution, I had to prove that I didn’t intentionally miscarry! That’s what many women face today, as well as other cruel and barbaric restrictions, which I believe are intended to control women rather than protect the unborn. Women can and must be trusted to make the decisions that affect their bodies and health, for their own as well as the nation’s wellbeing. I support candidates, and the political party, that champion women’s reproductive rights and freedom. NOTE: I included a quote from Susan B. Anthony — one of my historic sheroes — and would like to clear up a misunderstanding that has been fomented by some organizations regarding her stance on abortion: According to history experts, Susan Anthony did not express an opinion on the subject, considering it a distraction from her goal of women’s suffrage.
- Women’s Rights, Equality and Fairness – While reproductive freedom is at the core of women’s equality, along with the right to vote, the struggle continues for equality and fairness in legal matters, marriage, society and the workplace, where women still experience income inequality, pregnancy unfairness and sexual harassment and discrimination, whether they work onsite or remotely, especially in certain industries. I support the party that supports women.
- Crime – Traditionally, it was thought that one party was tough on crime, but that is no longer true. I certainly am not in favor of “defunding the police.” There are honorable members of the police, including those who put their lives on the line for Americans every day, and those who have given their lives. I am in favor of police reform so that we can stop experiencing more tragic police killings, but I am also in favor of finding a balance between enhanced training and support of police. Of course, and discussion of crime must include a plan for gun control legislation, and it must be noted that the party that has been credited with being tough on crime is soft on guns. Go figure.
- Gun Legislation – Due to the NRA and many politicians standing in the way of safe and sensible gun legislation, our nation continues to experience increasing gun violence. Only one major political party has passed national gun laws, and in one case a major law was allowed to lapse under the other party. At the state level, far too many have weak or no gun laws, which allow those with criminal intent to cross into states with stronger gun laws. Clearly, sensible national gun legislation is needed so that the entire country is on the same page to help stop mass shootings. If we don’t, the time may come when every American will be touched by a gun violence tragedy at school, the workplace, movie theatre, outdoor concert, supermarket, or just taking a stroll. Hence, I vote for candidates who favor national gun safety legislation.
- Racism – After more than a century and a half of progress — through a byproduct of war, legislation and enlightenment in combatting racism, which stubbornly remains imbedded in our society — in the past several years we have seen a rollback of protections, understanding and respect for non-white people by one party and its leadership. The two political parties are split on what needs to be done to improve or achieve racial equality. I support the party that stands for diversity, equality and inclusion.
- LGBTQ – When I moved to New York in 1968, my circle of friends and acquaintances included many gay and lesbian people. At various workplaces throughout my career, I worked with LGBTQ people of all backgrounds, and the most recent company established a Gay-Straight affinity group. As a manager, I joined the group to show my support; in doing so, I realized the effectiveness of such a merger between gay and straight employees, and the understanding it promoted. Recently, I have become acquainted with a transgender person, as a client and fellow community volunteer, and support the understanding and acceptance of transgender people, especially youth. I also support candidates and leaders who show the same solidarity with LGBTQ people as many American citizens, communities and companies have demonstrated.
- Schools and Education – When someone is elected to a school board, they are making a commitment in time and expertise to serve the community and its children. Because it is a serious responsibility, etiquette expert Candace Smith has provided detailed guidelines for Board Meeting Etiquette. In my view, this guidance should also apply to parents and other community members who attend school board meetings. As Ms. Smith’s article indicates, independent thinking should be encouraged, but defensiveness and blame should be discouraged. Recently, I’ve been taken aback at reports of parents verbally attacking board members at meetings over mask wearing, race and gender issues, which have resulted in the banning of certain topics taught and books, and even threats to board members and their families. Disturbingly, a political agenda seems to be behind these attacks. As a parent, I often attended school board meetings, and occasionally there was a controversial issue about which parents were divided and passionate. At one such meeting, another parent and I attended to explain our opposing positions. I presented first, and then she did; prefacing her presentation, she said, “Although Mrs. Nelson and I disagree, I respect her position and thought she made some good points. However,….” Ah, the good old days! As for book censorship (which will only motivate kids to go out of their way to get their hands on the banned items), I would rather see parents and children have calm discussions about books and study topics, and parents and board members have calm discussions about everything. For all students, I believe that American history should be taught in its factual and anecdotal entirety and that inclusiveness be observed. I support school board and government candidates and officials who support the teaching and discussing of all current and historical factual material, and promote diversity, equality and inclusion among the student body, teachers and staff.
- Immigration – Establishing and enforcing a smooth immigration system has long been elusive and challenging for American leaders in both parties. But the former federal administration appeared to reach a new low in common decency, and some current state officials are proving that they are also inhumane and untrustworthy. We must get a handle on effective and fair immigration policies and implementation, because history has shown that immigrants built America and continue to help the economy by filling jobs that most American citizens do not desire. This is true right now. I have worked with immigrants in the corporate workplace and participated in celebrations as they became citizens, and many years ago my husband and I hired and sponsored a wonderful person for a green card. I support finding a productive policy that benefits both natural citizens and immigrants.
- The Economy – Because economic conditions are cyclical and temporary, I am less worried about this issue as I am the aforementioned conditions that could become permanent, or at least long-lasting. Inflation is painful, but the current situation is an unprecedented perfect storm of COVID supply-chain problems, increased consumer spending following the pandemic, and Putin’s war on Ukraine. These three components are affecting every country in the world, not just the U.S., and there is little any government can do to turn it around instantly. That said, gas prices have come down, jobs and salaries are still up, consumer confidence and spending is still up, and recent legislation passed in Congress — Infrastructure, CHIPS and Science, and the Inflation Reduction — are expected to produce a bright future, improving the quality of life for millions of Americans and create even more jobs. So, while the economy is walking a tightrope right now between inflation/deflation/recession, if history is a guide it will eventually pass.
The Least We Can Do Is Register and Vote!
These are my views on the critical issues that face us at this historic moment.
You may agree with me, and that’s great. Now go register and vote! On the other hand, you may not agree with me on everything, or anything. Now go register and vote!
But remember, no political party, individual candidate, or public official is perfect. Nor will anyone agree 100% with every position on every issue taken by a party or individual. But most positions of a particular candidate might be better aligned with a particular voter’s values than those of other candidates. The important thing is that we are all Americans and our vote is our superpower. Whether or not we agree, we should be thoughtful and aware, and use our right to vote wisely rather than squander it, or fail to use it at all.
After all, if NASA can manage to smash into an asteroid that is nearly seven million miles away in order to save the planet someday, we surely can take the time and effort to use our vote to save our planet — and our democracy — today!
Until next time,