Your vote does matter!

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In recent years, voting has become a low priority among many people, especially young people.   They believe their one vote doesn’t matter and some even believe elections are rigged and voting doesn’t count.

But it does.  It’s true there has been some unfair rigging of the elections in recent years, due to Republican gerrymandering, attempts at voter suppression, purges of the voter rolls (this has been a big problem this year but it’s also being caught and dealt with), huge donations to GOP politicians from SuperPACs, billionaire oligarchs, and probable help from other countries too.

But there are a lot more of us who hate what the Trump GOP has been doing and the way they have been lining up behind Trump and enabling his destructive policies and rhetoric, instead of providing a check on what he does.   The Republican Party has lost many people in the past two years, including some notables like George Will, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace (the last two formerly worked in the George W. Bush administration).  In spite of their conservatism, they have become voices for the Resistance.    Most of these former Republicans have decided to vote a straight blue (Democratic) ticket in the midterms to save our democracy from encroaching authoritarianism — even if that means they have to hold their nose about ideological issues that are too liberal for their taste.

These conservatives realize that at this juncture, a politician’s specific ideology is less important than where they stand about Trump vs. democracy itself — and the Republican Party is no longer the freedom-loving party of Lincoln, Reagan, or even John McCain.  It’s become a party that goes against most core American values, and celebrates racism, hatred, violence, ruthlessness, misogyny, corruption, misinformation, lies, greed, and exclusion.  Since Trump’s election, it has moved to the extreme right, into fascism.  This is not hyperbole;  it is the new reality.  Trump can do a whole lot less damage to our American way of life when there are some much  needed checks and balances put back into place, and right now, that means we need a majority of Democrats in the House and hopefully the Senate too.   It’s not ideological or partisan; it’s just common sense,  since the Republican Party has become so extreme and untrustworthy (and having all three branches of government under the control of one party is never a good thing anyway).

Smart conservatives realize all this, and will be joining Democrats and voting for Democratic politicians in this election.   Polls are also saying that many more Millennials are planning to vote than have in past elections (even though many still plan to sit it out).   They don’t want to inherit the bleak future that looms should Republicans maintain complete power.

So, in spite of attempts to suppress our votes, gerrymander districts, spread disinformation and lies about Democrats (that’s a whole other topic I may or may not write about), and fix electronic voting machines (this has been a problem in Texas in particular, with straight Democratic voters saying their votes were changed to Ted Cruz), I’m almost certain if we show up in great enough numbers, we can beat all the GOP’s efforts to cheat their way into a win (and cheat they must, since this party no longer offers anything of value to We, the People).

If you’re thinking about skipping voting, think about the future that awaits with an all- Republican government that’s in lockstep with Trump and lets him do whatever he wants.     Think about having no checks and balances on this president, and what that could (and probably will) mean for all of us, for humanity, and for the planet itself.    Even if you don’t care about yourself, think about the kind of future such an America holds for your children or grandchildren.

Elections have actually been won on one or two votes.   Your vote carries a lot more weight in a midterm election than in a presidential one, since you’re voting for people at the state, rather than national, level.   There are services offering rides to the polls, if it’s difficult for you to get there.    Don’t feel guilty about calling in to work that day (Election Day really should be a national holiday) if they don’t allow time off for you to vote.   Or vote early, if you still can.  If you’re not registered, in most states you can register the same day you vote.   So don’t let that hold you back either.

It may be more tempting to sit home than go out in the cold or the rain and stand on line waiting to do something that seems like it might not matter.   Don’t!   Your vote does matter.  If all of us who normally might sit out the midterms (I always did until now) give into what’s easiest and requires the least amount of effort in this election, all three branches of government will remain under Republican control and you or your loved ones could lose many if not all of the rights and freedoms you take for granted right now.    The safety net (including Social Security and Medicare) would also be decimated and possibly abolished at some point.  Do you want that for yourself?  Do you want that for your loved ones, who may be elderly or disabled and depend on those services (which are earned benefits, not entitlements) for their survival?  I know I don’t!   I have paid a portion of my paycheck into those services almost every year since 1976 and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them steal my investment out from under me, to pay for the trillion dollar deficit they caused by their ridiculous and destructive tax cut for the rich!

Think of this too:  people have fought and even died for your right to vote.   Women and black people couldn’t always vote.   That right wasn’t won easily, and many people died fighting for it.   So to not exercise your right to vote is to disrespect the people who sacrificed their lives for you.

So, taking all this into account, if you haven’t already voted, please get to the polls on Tuesday, November 6th.   It costs you nothing except the gas, and requires only a few hours out of your day.  Isn’t that worth it to save democracy and prevent fascism from completely taking over?   If you don’t vote, you are voting against democracy, against progress, against our American way of life.  If you don’t vote, you are actually voting for unchecked power of a dangerous, despotic leader who has already done enormous damage and is only just getting started.

This is the most important election in a lifetime.   VOTE!

*****

Further reading:  

13 Ways to Get the Most Out of Voting in the Midterm Election

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I want my life back.

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There hasn’t been one morning since Trump became president that I haven’t woke up with my stomach in knots and my heart racing. It’s impossible to get back to sleep and the first thing I always do is pull up Twitter to find out what the latest calamity is.

I’m edgy with people, edgy at work all the time, edgy with my family.  I can barely function due to the constant nerves.  And it’s all because of the political situation which occupies my mind 24/7 and is growing worse with each passing day.

Self care (which I recommend!) is only a temporary respite from the endless rollercoaster of anxiety, anger, dread, and depression.  Going on vacation helps, but I can’t afford to do that more than once or twice a year.   And even then, in the back of my mind, is the heavy feeling of knowing that soon,  I’ll once again have to face our dark reality.   Self care activities are necessary, but all they do is keep me from falling into the abyss.  They don’t remove me from its edge.

I have NEVER had this kind of reaction before to ANY president.   Even when I didn’t particularly like the president or his political platform, in the back of my mind I always knew he knew what he was doing, was going to protect democracy,  and that we were more or less safe from terrorism, both foreign and domestic.  I could focus on other things besides politics. Since January 9, 2017 I can’t.

I read somewhere that in functioning democracies, people don’t obsess about politics. They can actually live their lives.  Since January 9, 2017 I feel like my life has been on hold and I can never relax.

Maybe in 9 days, we can put some much needed checks and balances back in place to keep this despotic president under control.   Perhaps then I can relax a little.  But I have a feeling no matter how the election goes,  calamity will ensue.   Trump’s base is so huge, so violent and so full of hatred toward most Americans, that I fear if we win,  there will be civil war waged against us (which Trump himself has threatened).   Already there seem to be bands of roving vigilantes and right wing militia groups sprouting up like metastatic tumors in the body republic, and not just at the southern border (where they await the “caravan” which consists primarily of women and children seeking asylum, not rapists, MS-13, and murderers).  I have no faith these groups will be kept in check by our military, and no faith our military will even take our side (even though they’re supposed to protect the Constitution, not the president).

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Two days ago, pipe bombs were sent through the mail to Democratic leaders and reporters by a Trump supporting white supremacist (yet the Trump camp, as they always do, blames the victim, claiming Democrats sent the bombs to themselves).   We were fortunate this time that the bombs were intercepted and defused before a disaster (or many disasters) happened, but next time, someone may die.  And there will be a next time.   We have become as tribal and violent as a third world country — and the violence isn’t coming from Antifa (which is a tiny minority on the very far left that engages in vandalism, not violence against actual people) or the left.   Resistance protests have been peaceful, with any violence that occurs stirred up by counterprotesters (Charlottesville) and far right domestic terrorist groups like the Proud Boys and other far right extremist groups.   The left (which now includes what used to be moderates and Never Trumpers due to the rightward shift of the Overton Window) has been gaslighted, demonized, and smeared by the Trump regime and its cult members to the point that anyone who disapproves of Trump and the toxic fear based rhetoric he spews at his rallies is seen as an enemy.   We have been identified and marginalized.   Removal of our rights and finally elimination will follow.   People are going to die.

If we lose, I don’t even want to think about what’s going to happen.   It’s too terrifying to contemplate.

I just want this madness to end.   I don’t want to have to obsess about politics anymore.

I just want my life back.

 

I voted early!

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13 ways to get the most out of voting in the midterm elections.

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I have never voted in a midterm election before.    In the past, they never seemed that important.   Of course, I was wrong about that.  They are always important, but never before has a midterm election been more important than the one coming up on November 6th.   In fact, this midterm election is more vital to America’s future than any presidential election in history.   It’s a make or break moment in American history.

I think all of us who oppose Trump’s regime (I refuse to call it a “presidency”) know why this election is so important.   We currently have a situation where both the House and Senate are controlled by the craven, criminal, and corrupt GOP, which now is in lockstep with Trump and no longer even pretends to care about “We, the People.”   And now, with sexual abuser, woman hater, and far right Trump ideologue Brett Kavanaugh about to be confirmed to the Supreme Court (unless a miracle happens, he’s almost certain to be confirmed today), the Judiciary is about to be hijacked by Trump GOP as well.

Folks, I’m not going to lie.  We are in grave danger of falling into authoritarianism and fascism.

We, The People are no longer being represented by any branch of government.    The Founding Fathers set up a system with three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judiciary) that are supposed to provide a check and balance on a despotic president’s abuse of power so we don’t fall into tyranny.  That system has failed us.  We have become a nation of almost complete one party rule.   The election coming up will complete that process — or give us another chance to save our freedom and our rights.

Our last and only chance to save our democracy and regain our reputation as a moral nation that cares about its people, represents its people fairly, and respects and honors the Rule of Law is the midterm election, which is exactly a month from today.    If we fail — and that is a real possibility due to voter suppression, gerrymandering, Russian influence, GOP tampering with voting machines, etc. — any semblance of democracy will be gone and we will be in free fall into fascism and a miserable future for our children and grandchildren.

But I think if everyone who hates this authoritarian system they are trying to install gets out and votes, that we can overcome Trump’s GOP and reclaim democracy.  Even if we still have to put up with Trump for a couple more years, the consolidation of power we have been witnessing will be greatly curtailed.

Here are some handy suggestions for voters and potential voters.

1. Make sure you are registered.   You can check your status here.  Check it weekly, since many states are doing voter purges and just because your name is there this week, doesn’t mean it will be next week.

2.  If you aren’t registered, do it now!  (It may be too late in some places).  Here is a site where you can register.   Procedures may vary by state.   Here is where you can also find out how to submit an absentee vote if you are going to be away from the polls on Voting Day.

3.  Don’t believe the polls and news stories that crow about a “blue wave” happening.   It may not happen and these reports of the surety of a blue wave can lull you into complacency and make you think we have it in the bag.   We don’t have it in the bag, and you need to vote, no matter what the polls say.

4.  There’s a lot of disinformation on the internet, and in recent years there are websites that tell you you can vote online.   Ignore these!  You cannot vote online.  These sites are fake, and probably a sneaky voter suppression technique (if you “vote” online, you won’t show up at the polls).   They can also be dangerous and hack into your personal information or install malware on your computer.  Avoid them!

5.  Bring someone with you who has never voted before.  Explain to them why their vote is so important.   Educate them about what is happening to America right now, if they don’t follow the news.  You’d be surprised how many people don’t.  I used to be one of those people, until Trump.

Here’s something that happened.  The other day at the grocery store I overheard two ladies talking and one of them didn’t even know who Brett Kavanaugh was.  She said she doesn’t follow the news.  Millions of people really have no idea they are about to lose everything, all their rights and freedoms, even as we in the Resistance watch our beautiful country go down in flames. It’s our responsibility to educate these people, and get them to vote.  It’s a lot easier to educate an uninformed person and take them to the polls than wasting time trying to change the mind of a Trump supporter, who follow their own fake news stories and whose minds apparently cannot be changed.

If the person has no way to get to the polls, offer to drive them there.

6.  Even if you don’t bring a new voter to the polls with you, at least talk to people who have never voted before about why their vote matters.   Elections have been decided on one or two votes!   Your vote holds more weight in a midterm election than in a presidential one.   If there are any doubts, have them read this article (or read it yourself):

10 Elections Decided by One Vote or Less 

7.  Offer to carpool for people who want to vote, but have no transportation or can’t make it to the polls for other reasons (handicapped, etc.).   Put a sign offering this on a community bulletin board at your church, school, library, or another public place.  Many grocery stores have a community bulletin board.  Or put your offer on your social media page (if you’re a woman, be careful with this though and don’t offer to take a man with you unless there’s at least one other woman along for the ride).

8.  If you don’t have the day off work (most people don’t, which is a shame and one of the reasons voter turnout in America is so abysmal), take the day off!  Don’t feel guilty.   You are doing your patriotic duty to help save our country from creeping authoritarianism.   Lie and say you’re sick if you must, but get to the polls.

9.  Don’t be a purist.  This is not the time to vote for an Independent, Green Party politician, or for a member of any party that isn’t one of the two main political parties.  If you’re a liberal, moderate, or Never Trumper, a vote for another party candidate is really a vote for the GOP.    I hope you vote Democratic.   The new GOP is not your father’s (or even your older brother’s) Republican Party.   If you care about saving democracy, you must vote Democratic, even if you don’t particularly like the candidate, or don’t agree with their entire platform.   Hold your nose if you have to and just do it!

10.  Be prepared for long lines.   There are going to be many more people waiting on line to vote than in normal times, or even during presidential elections.   Bring a book or a Kindle with you so you can read while you wait, or at least your smartphone so you can browse the internet or text your friends.    Even better, strike up a conversation with other people standing in line.   Bring snacks and drinks too because you are probably going to get hungry or thirsty.

11.  If possible, demand a paper ballot.  You may not have that option, but it’s worth asking.  Paper ballots are safer because they can’t be tampered with like electronic voting machines can be.   Or submit an absentee ballot to get around that.

12.  If you get one, display your “I Voted” sticker proudly.   You just helped save democracy!

13.  If you don’t vote, don’t complain about what happens later.

If you think of any other voting tips, please put them in the comments.  Happy voting!