This August marks 100 years since women in America won the right to vote, and last Friday we honored the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, a rallying cry for the Civil Rights movement led in part by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rep. John Lewis. Both these movements required hours of engaged activist work from millions of people in order to secure the right to vote.
These days, it’s hard to avoid talk about our upcoming election. As we’re constantly presented with information, problems within our society are more apparent than ever and as individuals it can feel difficult to envision our personal roles in reaching meaningful, national solutions.
And while these current social, political, and racial illnesses necessitate many more hours of engaged activist work, our first step must be to vote, to practice our baseline act of democracy and to claim our right to be involved in the decisions of our political structures.
Whatever systemic change you want to see, that change requires a law. Voting for responsive, ethical representatives is an essential first step in creating any changes we want to see. We cannot desire a more healthy democracy and at the same time choose not to vote.
We also have to acknowledge that there are structural barriers that make voting more difficult, often for those who have historically been disenfranchised. To commemorate the anniversaries of these historical movements and to acknowledge the vitally important decisions our country will be making in November, Lucid Muse Collective will be donating 10% of our proceeds through the election to the Brennan Center for Justice, a non partisan law and policy institute that works to protect fundamental freedoms. Currently they are focused on working to protect our right to vote especially as it is effected by the pandemic and the current administration’s stated interest in curbing access to the vote. Their work includes providing information to voters who may be victims of voter registration purges, ensuring funding to make sure polling locations are clean and safe, reforming the role that money plays in politics, and providing information on how to vote safely and effectively. Their website alone (brennancenter.org) is a vast resource on how American democracy functions, how it could function more fairly, and how we can protect the rights we’ve gained as citizens.
Our vote, if we are able to cast it, is our strongest, most universal tool for political change.
If you don’t think that your vote matters, I get it. American politics can feel futile. It feels disheartening, it feels polarized as hell and you’re not even sure if either side is really fighting for you. It feels like your vote is a drop in the ocean, like your voice doesn’t matter and the powers that be will decide for you anyway. I’ve been there, sometimes I’m still there. And here’s the deal: your vote probably won’t be the deciding vote that changes an election. Honestly, it's not really supposed to be. Yes, you might just be a drop in the ocean, but if every drop decided it didn’t need to show up, we wouldn’t have the ocean. By voting you say that your voice, your opinion, your role as a citizen matters in this madness we call our country. You’re saying that this is our country, that I might not make the difference, but I will make a difference, I will be my own small but so important part of the whole. Since 2000, no more than 52% of voters aged 18-29 has cast a ballot in a general election. Imagine the impact our generation could have on our future if we brought that number closer to 100. And you never know: maybe an election ends up being decided by 10 or 100 or 1000 votes, maybe you and the people you talked to about that race did make that change. It happens all the time.
So here’s the deal: don’t vote because you think you’re supposed to, or because it's the “right thing” to do. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s what it takes to get you to vote, by all means please vote. But as Rep. John Lewis, may he rest in peace and power, told us: voting in this country is almost a sacred act. 57 years later, and we are still Marching on Washington, we are still fighting for every person’s right and access to vote. So vote like your vote is sacred. Vote like free and fair elections are a privilege, not a guarantee. Vote like your voice matters because it's a piece of America’s voice. Vote like the social, economic, environmental and general health of our community is more important than your personal comfort. Vote like people fought for your right to do so - because they have and they are.
Everything you need to vote - Vote.org