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This damnable year has taught me two things, the most recent of which is.:

  • Vote shaming does not work.

A few times, now, I’ve attempted to convince non- and third-party-voters to cast a meaningful vote in this year’s election. In those posts, I have avoided anything that might be construed as bullying or “shaming.” I haven’t cast aspersions or indulged in ad hominem attacks. I haven’t in any way implied that Americans don’t have the right to disenfranchise themselves.

In discussions, I’ve striven to be firm but not belligerent, hoping persuasion would prove more effective than incivility. I’ve expressed my sincere understanding for each person’s reasons for eschewing both Dems and GOP, but have simultaneously pointed out that there are more important aspects at stake here than just one voter’s preference (or lack thereof) for a particular candidate. I’ve stressed that unity is our strength, and that e pluribus unum is even more true today, in our diverse and multicultural society, than it was in the much more homogenous 1776. I’ve argued that how we vote in this election will affect many people beyond ourselves.

And still, I’ve been accused of bullying and shaming. I’ve been told I have no right to judge. I’ve been unfriended, disinvited, and (I suspect) blocked.

Well, since my last post here on the topic, our current POTUS has moved to replace a liberal icon of the SCOTUS with an arch-conservative, has laid the groundwork for nationwide voter intimidation and nullification, and has found it impossible to utter the simple phrase, “I denounce white supremacy in all its forms.”

Despite this, I still refuse to engage in public shaming of those who have chosen to sit this one out and/or vote for a non-viable candidate.

That does not mean I won’t try to convince them, though.

Because this isn’t about me or about being “right.”

It isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. It isn’t about any one of us.

It’s about all of us.

It’s about my friend’s kid, who’s struggling with their gender identity and fears violence perpetrated by emboldened bigots. It’s about my neighbor whose furlough just turned into a layoff, and who’s worried that the ACA won’t be there for him and his family. It’s about my LGBTQ friends who are fearful of what the new SCOTUS will do (or undo) regarding their marriage. It’s about my friends up and down the West Coast, suffering under smoke and evacuation orders, and those on the East Coast buffeted by one hurricane after another. It’s about the parents I know, worried sick about their kids going to school during a pandemic, worried about when and if life will ever return to something reminiscent of what it was like just a year ago.

We all know friends in similar situations, fellow citizens who are negatively affected by this administration’s actions (or inactions). And we all know this election is a turning point. We can all see the two paths that lie ahead, clearly and starkly delineated. The difference before us is impossible to deny: two paths, two futures.

But which future? Which path?

This election decides, and it is our civic duty, our responsibility as citizens, to take it seriously. Sitting it out or voting for a candidate with zero chance of winning is a total abdication of that responsibility. It does not move the needle. It does not have an effect. It does not make a difference. And, judging from the strident, sometimes vitriolic, often knee-jerk responses I’ve received from third-party acolytes and non-voters, they know it, too.

But here’s the other lesson I’ve learned from 2020:

  • Things can always get worse.

And if we do not join together to fight the obvious threat, things will get worse.

Our nation, our democracy, our institutions, and our norms, need you.

k

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Obey the Kitty!Regardless who you voted for, thank you for voting.

Washington State is now all mail-in ballots, so voting for me was easy. Not so for many people in other states who had to wait in line for hours just to exercise this essential civic right. Nor was it easy for those still caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and who, displaced or homeless or without even a polling place to go to, somehow managed to get in there and cast a ballot. Bless you for your efforts, for your perseverance, and for your example. (more…)

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Obey the Kitty!The world changes quickly, and as I get older, I start to feel the current move faster than I am. Slowly, inexorably, I’m being left behind. This is something I work hard against; I try to keep current, but I never was “edgy” or “cool” and I sure as hell don’t expect to start now. I suppose this makes me a member of the Curmudgeon Party. I’m pretty happy over here. I can rant and rave, piss and moan, and no one is surprised when I do it. So, don’t be surprised. I’m going to do it again.

Last night—on an October night—I voted in a general election. My wife and I sat in the living room, discussed each of the initiatives and reviewed the candidates, colored the little bubbles on our computer-ready form, and stuck them in envelopes to go out in the morning’s post. Washington State now has a wholly mail-in election system.

And I hated it.

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