By Trudy Wischemann
The ballots are out, the Vote-By-Mail ballots, along with the voter guides. With the huge increase in what used to be called “absentee ballots,” what used to be that intense last week before the election now actually has become four. Four weeks of intense lobbying, name-calling, and scare tactics intended to get us voters to sway one way or another.
Unfortunately, I think it makes some people turn away from the process altogether and become part of that glump of people the pundits say are “apathetic.” I don’t think we’re apathetic (and I plan to vote, by the way.) I think we’re repulsed. I think we’re outraged by the half-truths battling each other, screaming for our attention and loyalty for these few seconds of cosmic time only to be ignored when real needs come out of our mouths asking for their attention. I think we’re mad, and the only way to fight back against this flood of garbage is to refuse to play the game. To withhold the thing they want, the one thing we have to give: our vote.
I’m telling you right now I wish it worked that way. I wish we could get this violence against the people – violence against our minds and hearts, this war being waged every two years regardless of how few of us show up at the polls – I wish we could get this violence to stop. But it won’t because it’s working. The fewer of us vote, the fewer people they have to work hard to convince in order to win.
The biggest problem is that it’s driving people away, not only from the polls (or filling out their mail-in ballots,) but from caring at all. That’s something we have to battle in ourselves. Caring is probably the most essential ingredient in democracy. If we let them drive us away from caring, pretty soon we’ll be voting for one person, like Vladimir Putin in Russia or Kim Jong Un in North Korea. Where going to the polls requires a bullet-proof vest.
Caring is also the most essential element of a neighborhood, a small town, a church, a school – just about any social grouping we absolutely require to be human. Caring is required to make music or poetry, art of any kind. Caring is required to help others recover from natural disasters, trauma from violence, addiction to drugs and maladaptive social units called gangs. Caring is required to open our hardened hearts toward God.
So if this unnaturally extended season of inhumane political warfare is hardening your heart, take care. Take care of yourself, take care of the people and things you love, take care of your neighbors no matter what signs they have stuck in their lawns. Embrace what matters to you, don’t let it slip away in the ruckus. Find out who might honor most what you care about, and give them your vote. Get informed about the ballot measures and vote for the ones most likely to save your favorite stream or bring water where it’s needed. Don’t let the fear of battle make you abandon the cause. Let’s keep democracy intact: vote.
Trudy Wischemann is a disgruntled activist who writes. You can send her your care-driven war stories c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.