There is so much in the way of peril or promise before us these days that it is difficult to know what to do first. Besides addressing the drivers of climate change, we have to address the drivers of the drivers, that is, our incessant and increasing extraction of the Earth’s resources as if our planet were lifeless and infinite. Other crises with equally serious implications are income, class, racial, ethnic, and religious contests for power and control; the extensive pollution of the world with plastics and other chemicals; and the refusal to follow nature’s life-affirming laws in our interactions with it. It’s not simply adjusting the dials that we need to do, it is taking on a whole new world view that will save us. The people currently in power, for the most part, do not understand this and are leading us in the exact opposite direction when we have little time to waste. If we can elect a president and a congressional majority that understand, even superficially, the epic challenge of our time, we can enact laws that create economic and political systems that work for everybody and toward world peace, while addressing the concerns and priorities of our planet.
With that in mind, Indivisible Vashon is setting high priority on recruiting people to help get out the vote. In 2016, voter turnout, at 55%, was at a 20-year low. It’s not a dramatic difference—voter turnout has been a little above or below 60% forever. In keeping with the pivotal nature of the times in which we live, we need to do much better than that.
Michael Meade recently said something that really stuck in my mind. Playing with familiar words, he said that America is a dream that has yet to be realized. The “American Dream” we are familiar with is the possibility of becoming wealthy. That particular dream has proven attainable by only a few, and now even the idea of attaining it is open to question. The dream of a fully participatory democracy has yet to be realized, so we need to convince more people than ever before to get out and vote.
I see four reasons why people don’t vote. Firstly, since we’ve had so few bumps in our road, we have evolved a custodial democracy. By that, I mean that we tend to think that the country will operate fine without much intervention on our part. Secondly, there may not be anybody running that we particularly care for. Thirdly, we feel that regardless of who gets elected, our opinions really have no effect on policy. Fourth, many people are struggling and don’t have the bandwidth. All four of these are well founded.
The wealthy in this country have always skewed power in their direction by controlling the outcome of the vote. In an oft cited study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page from 2014, it was shown that the general public has zero influence on public policy. That’s right, zero! There are, of course, many times when the opinions of the wealthy have coincided with the public, but, barring the approval of wealth, nothing from the people is enacted. This is the result of a long period of controlling who runs for office, who succeeds, and making lobbying offers that officials can’t refuse. The result is a set of laws that maintain a status quo that is highly leveraged in favor of the wealthy.
We need only a majority in both houses and a willing president to overturn all the laws that have delivered our country to the wealthy and have allowed business to rape and pillage our planet with no regard for the future! Without political control, we have no peaceful way forward.
With that in mind, you can support candidates that are willing to take up the fight, and you can help discouraged voters gain some faith that their vote will matter this time.
You or your group can go to events or public gathering places and register new or relocated voters. You’d be surprised at how many have just not bothered to do it yet and will appreciate the opportunity that you give them. Indivisible Vashon can train you and suggest locations.
You can call, write postcards, or send text messages to energize voters here or in targeted states around the country.
You can canvas door to door in highly contested areas. This is the best and most rewarding way to connect with people.
You can fundraise to support our efforts or those of people in important districts around the country.
You can also get on an email list to comment at critical moments on important legislation.
To connect up, go to indivisiblevashon.org, click on ‘Take Action,” and then “Get Out the Vote Factsheet.”
If you agree with us that this is a critical point in the history of our country, and, arguably, of the world, then please consider lending a hand to see that this important juncture takes us to a positive future. This is the fight of our lives and the time is now!