…and So Much More This Election Season
However you do it, whenever you do, do it! Vote! Never in our collective recent history has it been more important to vote. Long gone is the casual walk into your polling place on that first Tuesday in November. This year, after four rocky, tumultuous years, topped with a global pandemic, it is once again time to vote. Baby boomers are making a plan to vote. But, they’ve been active and engaged for much longer than here in the final minutes of the quarter.
These past four years have brought into sharp focus a clearer understanding of what a democracy is. We’ve seen every night on the news how and why we need to be a nation of laws. The angst and anxiety needs to be replaced with civility and calm. And, perhaps most of all, we need our Nation’s leaders to support each individual, but in a unified manner.
While November 3rd is going to be a day of great importance, it didn’t just happen. Boomers have been as active these last four years as they were in the 1960s and 1970s. And, so many more Boomers are making a plan to vote, and so much more.
From the Women’s March…
Not surprisingly, a Baby Boomer was one of the co-creators of the National Women’s March back in January, 2017. You remember, the march with all the pink knitted hats? Teresa Shook sent out a Facebook post asking friends to join her in a march in Washington DC. She wanted a way to make it clear that women were important. While I watched with awe from my living room, a “few” of Teresa’s friends joined in:
- More than 470,000 women and men marched in Washington DC.
- Best guess: about 4 million people participated in marches across the US on the same day.
- Worldwide participation estimates counted some 7 million peaceful protesters.
- All told, 673 marches took place around the globe: 408 in the US, and the rest on all seven continents.
The women’s march was the largest single day protest in history. It happened on the new President’s first day on the job. Looking back, this one event ushered in four years of strong activism in every corner of the country. And is culminating in each of us making a plan to vote.
…to the Street Corners
They say all politics are local. Getting involved at the local level can be more impactfull and meaningful because it concerns you directly.
Picture this: I found myself standing on a busy street corner in Saturday traffic holding a political sign for a local candidate.
The backstory: Dan and I met one of our town’s selectmen several years ago, Emmanuel Dockter. He is rational, logical, civil, and listens to the needs of the towns people (including the nutty ones!). He makes you feel like your opinions are valuable and your ideas have merit. Even when they aren’t necessarily affordable.
So, when Emmanuel decided to run for State Representative on Beacon Hill, we rallied behind him. That translated to standing on a street corner waiving to thousands of people in cars since early August. This is something I never in a million years thought I would do.
Drivers, We Can See You
When you stand on a busy corner campaigning for a candidate, you get an up-close-and-personal look at the electorate. So many people mistakenly think we can’t see what they’re doing in their cars. But guess what? We can see you! All of you.
For the most part, the overwhelming majority of people driving by are terrific. They smile and nod, give a friendly wave. It’s fun when one car beeps in a friendly way and others follow along. They may be older or younger, drivers, or passengers. They are wonderful to engage with, if only for a fleeting few seconds.
But, then, there are the others. They choose to flip up middle fingers or show us thumbs down. Some even hand gesture shooting guns. Women purse their lips and shake fingers at us, like scolding a toddler. Men who clearly have chosen the opposing candidate shake us off in a less obnoxious way. My favorite people are the ones pretending they didn’t see us at all. All of a sudden these drivers are incredibly intent on their defensive driving skills. Their eyes are glued to the road in front of them. Their teeth clenched. But, they were looking right at us a second ago at the red light!
It’s Nice To Be Nice To the Nice
The best engagers tend to be people who have their dogs riding along. And, people who drive jeeps. Those in pick up trucks are 50/50. You can usually tell if they aren’t in your camp by the number of bumper stickers plastered all over their trucks. The Mercedes and Porche drivers are usually too busy drinking their Dunkin coffee or yelling into their phones.
Bottom line here: the people campaigning on the corner really can see you. Every gesture. Every smile. We’ve concluded that it really wouldn’t kill anyone to be nicer. It’s quite jarring to see how uncivil people – Americans – can be to their neighbors. It wasn’t something I personally needed to see in action. It is certainly unacceptable to be so hostile to those who are out there supporting a candidate. Even when that candidate isn’t the one you’re making a plan to vote for. We’ve got some major repair work to do out there – and it’s not just the potholes.
As Dan said after we stood out in a cold, brisk wind last week, “I’ll never look at campaign sign-holders the same way again!” And now, we always give at least a little wave.
Some Boomers Are Making a Plan To Vote—After 4 Long Years of Activism
As we come down to the wire of this election season, it’s not lost that Boomers have been taking action for years:
Take Joe, for example. He’s been reading and analyzing articles about the current Administration for years. He shares thoughtful summaries with his followers on Facebook. He’s also been very clear that this is the time to speak up. With a civil tongue. If we sit complacently on the sidelines, we are part of the problem.
Christine took things to a whole new level when she got involved in big-time politics in Pennsylvania. She became an active member of her Indivisible group. She has been leading and participating in efforts to vote out undesirable incumbents and vote in new candidates. She’s especially supporting those who champion women’s issues and prioritize Black Lives Matter.
Marilyn is one of the tens of thousands who wrote letters as part of the Vote Forward effort. This grassroots organization asked volunteers to handwrite information into letter template. Their original goal was to mail 10 million letters to underserved constituents in swing states. But interest was so huge they ended up mailing 15 million letters. Voting matters.
Postcards to Voters
Clayton and Amanda joined forces a few years back. They organized fellow Democrats at the local level. And started participating in Postcards to Voters, a grassroots operation supporting candidates at every level. These two Boomers started gathering others and got down to the business of hand-crafting postcard messages.
They tapped into the fact that people want to participate in the process. They want to make a difference along the way to making a plan to vote. But mostly, they don’t know where to begin. Today, nearly 100,000 volunteers in every state have written postcards for candidates through the Postcards to Voters organization. They are colorful and creative notes. And, they get noticed.
When I met Amanda, she described the postcard writing effort as a way we empty-nester Boomers can use our scrapbooking talents to help candidates. That’s exactly what the experience has been like.
Between Amanda and Clayton, they are participating in everything available to support local and national candidates. Amanda coordinates the Postcards to Voters efforts in New England. Clayton hosts a socially-distanced postcard writing event every week in his backyard. It’s been remarkable to see what a difference Boomers can make at all levels of the political process.
It’s About Engagement
Personally, I wrote my last postcard for this election last night. It was for Jaime Harrison in South Carolina. All in, I’m at about 400 postcards. Too bad I didn’t know about this effort long before September. But, that’s ok. I’ll know for next time. It’s about being engaged in our democracy.
The Postcards to Voters organization has wide-ranging reach. I wrote for such campaigns as Amy McGrath in Kentucky, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, and Kathy Lewis in Florida. And, who knew that Ohioans vote for their State Supreme Court Justices? Yep, postcarded for two of the candidates there. And, it was so exciting to be able to support two candidates in my other home state of Minnesota. Quinn Nystrom and Dan Feehan asked for postcards and I helped out.
Next time, I’m going to get fancier markers and probably some sparkles to add interest. This time, it was all about speed and quantity. By the way, anyone can volunteer with these organizations. Just click on the highlighted text to get to the websites.
What We Can Take Away
Regardless which side of the aisle you sit on – the bride’s side or the groom’s side – we all want to support the marriage. Our Republic has a 2-party system. Different parts of the country have different points of view and different priorities. We’re each entitled to our opinions. However, we all need to work together to make this incredible country stronger.
Baby Boomers were once known for their activism. Then, we became parents and PTA moms and soccer dads. But now, we have time on our hands once again. We can get back to our roots of activism. Baby Boomers been participating in quite a movement over the last 4 years. And voting is still an incredible privilege, especially for all us women who stand on the shoulders of the suffragettes. This election happens in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. It’s as important a year to make a plan to vote as ever before.
There’s clearly a lot more to do to keep the dream of this Democracy alive. The outcome of this election is quite uncertain. What this era has clearly demonstrated is that we can’t take our eye off the ball. We absolutely must vote. But, we have do more than show up at the polls.
This year, we need to make a plan to vote. If you’re heading out to the polls on November 3rd instead of early voting or mail-in-voting, bring a chair and a good book. Pack a lunch. And, wear a mask.