Updated: Apr 8, 2020
What am I fighting for?
Truth be told, some days I am not so sure. I am a little (okay, a lot) concerned about the state of our democracy at the moment. From the disregard and chipping away for norms that have corroded the system-predating and leading to our current president, to this administration’s authoritarian tendencies, to just the inability to have a civil discourse with those who hold different views, it appears that we are heading in a perilous direction. We have stood on the brink of a possible impeachment for years-with reasons and voices growing louder by the day. The media is derided as fake. My trust in the system often feels like it could sink no lower.
I could go on and express my grievances, but I think we all feel this gnawing sensation that--as Shakespeare put it--something is rotten in the state of Denmark/America.
But what can I do? And should I bother trying to fix the system? I am just one person, one voter, one voice. The system feels pretty overwhelming
Today, I was reminded of answers to both those questions. I had the honor of volunteering with the League of Women Voters in my hometown of White Plains to help register voters for National Voter Registration Day.
Do not get me wrong--our country has a long and unfortunate history of disenfranchising many from this sacred right enshrined into our Constitution. We continue to disenfranchise voters across the country today (cc: Stacey Abrams and the Fair Fight 2020 https://fairfight.com/fair-fight-2020/) I am fortunate to be a white middle class woman in New York who has never really fought any push back to my ability to be a part of the conversation and the system to work within or democracy-through voting or otherwise. But let’s not forget that my entire gender did not have this opportunity until 1920. And that was only after a hard fought battle, just to get the damn text to include us (okay, sore point here). Forget structural and intrinsic limitations that continued and continue.
So what can I do to keep fighting for this democracy that my foremothers and forefathers fought for? I can help get more people engaged. I can talk to them. I can register them to vote. I can give them the space to have a discussion through platforms like Citizen Jane Blog. I can listen (cc: #listenfirst and the National Conversation Project http://www.listenfirstproject.org/national-conversation-project/)
Because I am one person, one voter, and once voice. And in a democracy, that is really damn important. Collectively, one person, one voter, and voice lead up to We the People.
In the final line of the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln stated of American democracy the following “...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” I believe that by fighting onward, by interacting with our fellow Americans to celebrate our democratic foundations, such as the beautiful process in which we are all given the opportunity to vote, we can achieve this goal he stated so eloquently.