Vignettes from the Current Election Give Reason to Hope
This is a Tough Year to Vote
We all know the stories. One drop-off box per county in Texas. Slowdowns in mail delivery around the country. Not enough polling sites, especially in poor and rural areas. Intimidating demonstrators close to polling places. Changing rules, sometimes weekly, as different courts weigh in on one issue or another.
Some local and state officials clearly determined to minimize opportunities to vote. Threats of legal hurdles after the votes are in. In person voting carries a risk to health and life for many. For some, going to vote is a life-threatening decision.
What Say the People?
You could not blame people from recoiling from all this. Many are exhausted by it all. Others are frustrated, believing they are powerless in the face of corrupt power. Others are afraid of violence at polling places. And of course, some agree with plans to prevent voters from having their say.
And yet, there is another story.
We Will Not Be Denied
I was struck by an interview I saw on TV with a guy in Texas on the first day of voting there. He had just come from the polling place, having voted. The reporter asked how long he was in line.
He calmly noted that he came early, before the polls opened. That should have given him a quick turnaround, beating any lines. In fact, he was in line for over 11 hours. He said that yeah, he was really surprised about that, but he was determined to vote, no matter how long it took.
The Texan made an important observation. He noted that authorities were working to prevent voting, explaining some of the long lines. But, he noted, the long lines also existed because of massive, early turnout. He is right. Texas traditionally has poor turnout for voting. This year, they are leading the nation in turnout.
We see it all over the country. Millions of people who were not eligible to vote in 2016 are eligible now, and they are turning out in droves. So too, many who chose not to vote in 2016, are voting this year. Evidence is that most of these two groups of voters are choosing Biden and the down ticket at a pretty high rate.
Why Trump Looks Over His Shoulder in Fear
Trump has 5 million less people alive to vote this year that are a part of his core constituencies. They have been replaced with over 13 million young, diverse voters.
He still has a majority of evangelical voters, but that percentage is shrinking. Non college educated whites are beginning to drop off the Trump bandwagon in as well.
In short, to borrow that famous movie line, people are “as mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it anymore.” This is more than normal election decisions being made by citizens. It is people saying they do not like what this country is becoming, and they are not going to be pushed around.
Kindness on Display
There are countless displays of people helping each other out in voting challenges. People share chairs with others in line. They hold places for each other when someone needs a break.
Groups are showing up with food trucks, giving long lines nourishment and encouragement. People choosing to park a long way from the polling site so that others who need closer parking can find it.
I have been doing poll greeting during early voting. Most days that means I share some pretty close space to my counterparts for the other ticket and people representing a number of interest groups (environment, education, etc.). We are all offering sample ballots or endorsement lists and answering voter questions.
I have no way of knowing if my experience is typical or not, but so far, everyone has been civil, even helpful to each other. Not what I expected this year, and we have time to go yet. But it’s a hopeful sign.
Over to You, America
When this thing is over, one thing will be true, and I hope one more thing will be true. It will be true that no matter how the elections go, not many of us will move abroad; we are all going to still be here.
Not counting the extremists, the rest of us need to think about how the heck we can talk to each other. Not going to be easy.
The other thing I hope will be true is that the people will have stood up and gave a clear message. The message is that when pushed hard enough, the people will push back and assert their power.
Fingers crossed. Nothing is a sure thing. Six more days and we will know what awaits us.
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