Maybe it’s the environmental regulations that are being abandoned. Maybe it’s the armed thugs who barged their way into an active legislature without being, at the very least, surrounded by SWAT if not arrested and hauled away. Especially given that unarmed marginalized groups have largely suffered much worse while protesting peacefully, often while on their own land. Maybe it’s that large corporations received huge sums of relief while small businesses continue to be shut out in the cold. Maybe its that those same corporations have been blithely rewarding their shareholders and CEOs with record profit payouts while paying their employees poorly and, most certainly, not building a reserve to bridge this exact kind of downturn. Maybe it’s that the tippy-top earners have seen their wealth grow by 200+ billion in the past few months while 36+ million people are suddenly unemployed and waiting for relief that may never come. Maybe it’s the states that are purposefully ending their emergency orders in order to prevent people from collecting unemployment. Maybe it’s the companies who call their employees ‘heroes’ but then turn around and refuse to pay them a living wage or to even give them proper protection. Maybe it’s that trillions continue to be spent on military adventurism yet they resisted tooth and nail to spend anything to help the homefront. Maybe it’s that there has been more domestic deaths now than there were in some of those wars (or things that started wars).
And maybe it’s just the general ineptitude, narcissistic nepotism, and the absconding of responsibility while claiming all the glory. May you would just like leaders to be competent, thoughtful, and to, well, actually lead.
Maybe it is any of those things, and more, that have you, on some days, wanting to flip a table. Yeah. I feel you. I’m there too. This crisis has not only exacerbated the f-ed up parts of our system(s), but even more so has made them eminently visible. It’s enough to sap one’s feeling of agency and the will to do right in the world.
But there is a salve. While there are many conversations to be had to change the narratives we hold around these issues, it is equally and more worth remembering that these are and are held in place by systems, and specifically they are systems shaped and driven by policy. And policy can be changed. We have a kind of superpower we sometimes forget, and it is called the ballot box. But, like everything else, it is only power if we use it.
If you live in the USA, please check out this YouTube channel aptly named: How to Vote in Every State 2020.
And know that it may not be easy. From closing polling places to misleading mailers to gerrymandered districts to limits on absentee ballots to onerous and unnecessary ID laws to dark money groups to all sorts of things, there are many forces trying to limit our voices. And that doesn’t even count the day to day difficulty of managing work and childcare and everything else that renders our time a precious commodity, and adds to the strain of going to one of those limited voting spots and actually casting a ballot. Democracy is being limited (and to be clear this is primarily and especially being done by right wing interests and legislators) because the less that we speak, and the less that we can speak, the easier it is for them to hold onto power.
Which is why it is important to start planning now. Doing the work to register now so you can find what’s needed before the deadline comes. Making plans with friends, family, co-workers now to ensure things will be covered that day such that and will you have a much higher chance to reach the poll to cast your ballot. And maybe even to prepare some backup plans.
All so that we can get out there and get legislators and executives – nationally, stateside, and locally (All are important! Most of what affects us on a day to day basis happens at the local level!) – to alter policy and set up the systems that work for the most good for the most people, moving the needle towards a more just, verdant, healthy, and equitable future.