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January 24, 2017

To the Ones who Marched last Saturday, but Didn’t Vote last November—I Forgive You.

 

This open letter is for the older couple carrying signs, and the millennials and women’s groups in the pink pussy hats.

And for you, divorced lady trying to work two jobs and juggle child care, but who still felt this march was important enough to attend.

And also you, mother of three. And you too, hipster dude in your beanie and smart-looking, horn-rimmed glasses.

Oh, and you too, adorable, 17-year-old pregnant high school student.

Everyone who marched last Saturday had their own reasons for doing so, and everyone, despite their voting history, should be applauded for their efforts to make it happen. It proved to be the biggest “march on Washington” in U.S. history, and aside from what I believe was one insignificant sour note (I’m talking to you, Madonna), it was peaceful, organized, and uplifting.

The photos taken that day, and the stories that came from it were breath-taking and inspiring. The masses of people who marched in cities across the United States managed to spread resounding messages of inclusion and solidarity, particularly around the ideas of women’s reproductive rights and affordable health care (among other issues). Their voices were loud, proud, and clear for our new government and all the world to hear.

And while you came out in droves to be a part of it all, some of you did not vote last November. And, I want to know why.

I’m not judging you—we’re still all good, but I would like to ask some rather important questions:

Did you not vote because you weren’t “into politics” yet?

Was it because you weren’t interested, and you found the discussions, especially on Facebook, super annoying and antagonistic?

Did you not vote because you’ve never voted before and you were too embarrassed to find out how?

Was it because you did not fully realize the vital role elections play in the rights and freedoms that we so often take for granted?

Did you decide to march because you finally realized that your own rights and the rights of some of your friends were actually in jeopardy?

Did you simply get caught up in the moment?

These are perfectly fine reasons to march, by the way, so please don’t take my questions negatively. I’m just wondering. And I’m sure that the majority of those who marched last Saturday voted last November and were indeed unhappy with the surprising results.

But, let me ask, if you did not vote because you thought your vote wouldn’t matter, has this event profoundly changed your perception regarding the power and the will of the people, instead of the power and the will of government agenda?

The march was indeed powerful, and I believe that the people from all walks of life who showed up in droves in a sign of solidarity should be commended. You too, even if you didn’t vote—and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Now is not the time for shame. But I urge you to please—before you do or say anything else this week—register to vote (if you haven’t already) and get ready for the mid-term elections.

I am proud of my fellow Americans. This weekend of unity has ended, and while we the people continue to sort through the “alternative facts” that are predictably and continuously dished out on both sides, we must remember the following date:

November 6, 2018.

That’s the date that 33 senate seats, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 38 state and territorial governorship’s will be up for re-election.

Put that date on your calendar now and prepare to be an informed voter. If you are worried, concerned, angry, or disappointed about the direction the government is taking us, voting is the single most effective way to promote change.

Continue to cull this energy and this activism and get involved in your local and state government. The Women’s March on Washington was not about feeling good, although the positive vibes can’t be ignored. The march itself was about filling up a tank of fuel for a fire that is just beginning to rage.

So, I urge you now to go down to your town hall today and make sure you know what you are doing, and where you are going when it comes time to cast your vote again.

Marching is great. Making signs that express how you feel is fantastic. Wearing funky pink hats and yelling at the top of your lungs for what is good and right and honest is what freedom sounds like. You should feel good about having been there, having witnessed and participated in such a monumental, history-making event. You were part of the harnessing of energy from crowds of free-thinking people who created a wall of positivity.

But the only voice that rings truer and louder than the one you used during your passionate march on Washington last weekend, is the voice you will use when you march into a voting booth on November 6, 2018.

 

Author: Kimberly Valzania

Image: @womensmarch on Instagram

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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