“To all the young people who are here today, there are now more eligible voters in your generation than in any other, which means your generation now has more power than anybody to change things. If you want it, you can make sure America gets out of its current funk. If you actually care about it, you have the power to make sure we seize a brighter future. But to exercise that clout, to exercise that power, you have to show up. In the last midterm elections in 2014, fewer than one in five young people voted. One in five. Not two in five, or three—one in five. Is it any wonder this Congress doesn’t reflect your values and your priorities? Are you surprised by that? This whole project of self-government only works if everybody’s doing their part. … if you thought elections don’t matter, I hope these last two years have corrected that impression.”
President Obama, today.
Please please please make sure you are registered to vote. You can easily confirm your registration, file a new registration, and locate your polling place at iwillvote.com
Whenever a heartwarming story about a community rallying to support someone with a medical issue pops up, one of my smarter friends will point out how absurd it is that any citizen of the richest country on Earth should need a GoFundMe campaign to pay for their medical bills.
I’m almost a single-issue voter. I’m not, but my thinking about government and elected officials and what their purposes are begins and ends with how they approach health care. My thinking certainly visits all the other issues along the way (or a few of them anyway; I don’t have to have an opinion on everything as I’m not running and never will run for president) but number one among all the issues for me is health care. My reason for that is that I believe that you can’t really effect positive change in any other area if your body (or your child’s body, or your partner’s body) is sick or not working. Nor can you effect change if you’re struggling to pay for – or even get – vital medicine for yourself or a family member. Nor, again, can you effect change in areas you care about if you’re in significant debt for medical care you’ve already received. You can even have a hard time effecting change in the political issues you care about if you merely live with the specter of not being able to access or pay for medical care for yourself or your family.
For me and my family, it’s the black cloud that hovers in the background of every decision we make: What will we do for health insurance? What if one of us gets sick or hurt?
Health care is my #1 issue, as I think it should be for everyone in this country. (It also happens to be the one issue my conservative dad and I can agree on: Medicare for all.)
Inevitably, someone will say, “I read you for art, not for politics,” so here’s a hook for you: Bad health care has killed more American artists than I could list here without my fingers falling off.
The midterms are coming up, so if you want to support the arts, register to vote and vote for politicians who support universal health care.
I’ve been there since the very beginning, but I’ve had enough. I’m done with Twitter, unless and until its board and its profoundly terrible CEO enforce the same rules for Alex Jones that it enforces for the rest of us. Will you join me?
But it’s self-defeating to exaggerate the external obstacles: in 2016, Democratic turnout declined in states with and without new voter restrictions. Gerrymandering is a time-honored practice of both parties—look at Maryland’s House delegation. Unfettered money in politics doesn’t always favor Republicans, let alone guarantee victory—Hillary Clinton raised twice as much as Trump did. The greatest obstacle to voting is the feeling that it won’t matter, and that feeling seems to be more prevalent among Democrats.
In some cases, that sense may be based on overconfidence and insularity—a presumption that the other party’s outrages will automatically disqualify it in voters’ eyes. More often, it comes from a belief that politics doesn’t change anything in people’s lives. For two generations, the Republican Party has been an expression of grassroots conservatism, most recently the fever that’s ceded the Party to Trump. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has grown less connected to its voters. It’s like a neglected building, perennially on the edge of collapse, which left-leaning Americans occasionally use for some purpose and then abandon.
This year, something seems to be changing. The new faces among Democratic candidates, the new energy behind them, suggest a party of members, not squatters. But, come November, they will have to vote. It’s the only thing left.
Lots and lots and lots more people who oppose Trump and his enablers need to show up and vote in November. And guess what? If enough show up, then all the gerrymandering and vote suppression and Citizens United shenanigans in the world won’t be enough to stop the blue wave.
To paraphrase General Ulysses Grant when troops under his command first met troops under Robert E. Lee’s command in the US Civil War, “You need to stop worrying about what Lee is going to do to us, and start thinking about what we are going to do to him.”
Power isn’t given. It’s taken. Trump and his conspirators and apologists aren’t going to be embarrassed into quitting. They’re not going to skulk away when their obvious hypocrisy is exposed. They’re not going to change their minds when they see a funny meme mocking Trump and his Trumpettes.
They have to be beaten. And we have to beat them. That’s the way it works.