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It has never been so important to vote.
The ability to do so freely in the future is now at risk. If democrats do not show up at the polls in November, we should prepare for republicans to purge more voter rolls, disenfranchise more minorities, gerrymander more districts, and steal more positions of power.
But voting involves a thousand little votes, which are cast in studying the issues and candidates, following the debate, and helping to shape it.
The way we speak about candidates affects the way friends and family view them, fueling their momentum and the support they receive. Reading stories registers in clicks and views—sharing them bolsters the stature of their publications.
Voting makes us agents in the forces shaping our lives. It empowers us to articulate the kind of world we want to live in and helps us join with others to bring it about.
The process of learning about the candidates and issues takes us out of our own petty worlds, grounding our compassion in action, and sweeping us into something greater than ourselves.
Voting is a national ritual that celebrates and affirms our freedom by deepening our identification with it. By freely electing our representatives, we shape the world around us, protect the freedom to speak our minds, and peaceably assemble.
Voting is, in short, the discipline that protects our ability to say and do as we please.
And like all rituals, voting deepens the bonds of those who partake in it—even those who fiercely disagree.
Elections are a people’s parliament wherein differences of opinion compete to elect the representatives who will decide the future. They may not always agree with the people who put them in power, and they are increasingly corrupted by big money, but the beauty of voting is that we can always throw them out and change the system through better representatives.
Voting matters now more than ever because republicans control all three branches of government and most state houses, and it is the only way to check their power. We have let them decide what our lives will be like and the kind of country we live in, as they bully and insult us, and gloat over their victories.
Their authoritarianism and hate has left us more anxious and burdened, harsh and intense. But conservative hate is a corollary to liberal smugness.
Over the course of the last few generations, Americans got lazy, and as our culture collapsed and our institutions decayed, all too many of us sat back and laughed; cynically, as if we could take our privileges for granted; passively, as if someone would fix it for us; and cravenly, as if what mattered most was the profits to be gleaned from the spectacle.
But Trump has sent us a wake-up call, holding up a mirror to our own worst vices, and we now have the chance to redeem ourselves. We can save American democracy, and send a message to tyrants all over the world, or watch our heritage waste away—one lie at a time.
Enthusiasm matters because it turns the tides in close elections, but stoking it means reading, watching, talking, sharing, posting, tweeting, and raving. Elections are won by whoever has the guts to call more strangers, knock on more doors, donate more money, and argue with more friends.
These are the thousands little votes each of us holds in the palm of our hands.
Debate matters because when people lose they go away dejected and are less likely to share their views in the future. And when the views they are sharing are morally and factually wrong, shooting them down is an act of charity.
Republicans are crashing and burning because the things they are saying make no sense, and a crushing defeat in November just might set them right.
But whether or not they change—we can change the country.
We have each contributed in our own ways to the mess that has become of our nation. But we now have a chance to set things right. It is time for liberals to get up off the mat and win.
If you liked this article, please check out my book, The Holocausts We All Deny.
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