For the Promotion and Advancement of Republican Democracy

Why we need a new system for presidential elections.

I’m an Oregonian, so a claim that Oregonians are not as important or special as residents of Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, seems offensive and demeaning. Most Oregonians would object to and challenge such a pronouncement. But every four years that is the message sent during the presidential election. Due to the Electoral College, states like Oregon, and many others, are ignored during presidential campaigns and our votes mean almost nothing. As Scott Walker, a candidate in the republican primary race said in an interview with CNBC in 2015, “The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president. Twelve states are.” However, it doesn’t have to be this way. A simple solution would be to enact the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. It’s a mouthful, but the idea is a simple one. Before we get into that, however, let’s look at where we are now and how we got here.

The Electoral College was established by the framers of the Constitution as a compromise while deciding how to elect a president. At the time, we were creating a whole new system with no historical examples to follow, and we were a nation devoid of the technologies and communication capabilities we now enjoy. What was settled on was a system by which each state was allotted a number of electors equal to their number of senators (always 2) plus their number of congressmen (based on population). These electors were meant to be the voters for president, and base their decisions on their own judgement and deliberations. When citizens were voting, it was for electors, not their choice of president.

The College removes the agency of individual voters. In all other elections in this country, the voters directly elect their representatives. Our presidential elections, however, are different. When you cast a vote for a presidential candidate you are not directly voting for that person. You are registering your preference for a candidate, which is then tallied along with all the other ballots in your state. Those votes are then assigned to the candidate who gets the plurality of votes in the state and all your states’ electors vote for that person. In 48 out of 50 states, the electoral votes are all cast for just one candidate. There is no proportional allocation of citizen’s votes.  For example, if there were two candidates and one got 1000 votes, the other got 999 votes, and your state is allotted ten electors, all ten electors would vote for the candidate with the 1000 votes. One candidate would not get six electors while the other gets four (except for Maine and Nebraska, which do proportionally distribute their electors). This system creates swing states (aka battleground states) and it means we can, and have had, presidents elected even though they did not receive the most votes nationwide.

This is one of the main faults in our system. A candidate can be elected to the highest office in our country, with the slimmest margin in just a few states, despite a large national popular vote loss. This is the exact situation encountered in 2016. According to the FEC’s 2016 Official General Election Results, Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Clinton by 2,868,691 votes, out of 128,838,341. That’s a 2.09% margin of victory for Clinton. Trump became president, nonetheless, because 77,744 voters, out of 13,233,376, between the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin cast their votes for him. That was his margin of victory in those three states; less than .6%. Those states combined carry 46 electors, giving Trump the advantage he needed to win in the Electoral College.

This leads to the question of: what are our votes worth? In places like Oregon, California, Texas, Kentucky, or New York, the answer is that they have a nominal effect on the election outcome. These states are reliably red or blue. Therefore, not only do candidates tend to ignore the state, if you are a member of the opposition party in one of these places, say a republican in Oregon or a democrat in Texas, your vote carries nearly zero weight. It alone (or in combination with the small majority who are with you) cannot alter the balance of the total votes in your state. All your states electors will go to the candidate with the most votes, essentially negating your ballot.

Additionally, candidates don’t visit many places. They concentrate in battleground or swing states, the areas where electors are up for grabs. FairVote.org has compiled some surprising statistics about where the candidates spent their time in 2016. The two major party tickets made 399 official, public campaign appearances after the conventions. Of those, 375 were spent in just twelve states. Fourteen states only received between one and three visits each, and a whopping twenty-five states (including Oregon) received zero visits! The statistics indicate that 76% of the country is not on the radar of presidential candidates.

So, what can we do about this situation? The only way to abolish the Electoral College and move to a direct vote system is with a Constitutional amendment. It is an extremely difficult and long process to get an amendment passed and is very unlikely to be successful. Luckily, a much simpler and doable solution has come along. It’s called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The idea is simple: States that join (by passing a bill in their legislatures) agree to commit all their electoral votes to whomever wins the national popular vote. The compact would go into effect once enough states sign-on to reach 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win the election. This would ensure a national popular vote winner could never lose in the electoral college. No constitutional amendment would be necessary, and it’s legal because states are autonomous in making decisions about the allotment of their electors. The compact has been proposed in all fifty states and been enacted into law in eleven, totaling 165 electoral votes so far. It has also seen momentum in several other states.

In Oregon, the bill has passed the House four times. In three of those cases it never even received a hearing in the senate, and during this last legislative session (2017) a version of the bill made it to a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee, but never made it out of committee. According to The Oregonian, the bill was not advanced because the version proposed in the senate calls for the issue to be taken up by voters in a ballot initiative. The House version did not. The two bills would need to be reconciled and the Senate Rules Chair did not believe it made sense at that time to try such a task. The advocates for the bill do not have the funds and resources available to run the financially and labor-intensive campaign needed for a ballot measure vote. It’s been noted that the previous three House bills passed were all “blocked by Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, who opposes abandoning the traditional Electoral College process.” This year, however, he said he “would support the change if Oregon voters—not their representatives in Salem—made the call.”

This brings us to opposition to changing our current system. There are, of course, going to be many people who oppose any change to the status quo, and their reasons will vary. One popular argument is that the electoral college prevents “mob” rule; that it protects the minority from being overpowered by the majority. I think this argument is unconvincing due to the nature of how our system has ultimately come to operate. Under its original intentions, the College would have acted as a deliberative body. The electors would be chosen by the citizens, and would decide the presidential elections on their behalf. The Framers believed this compromise solved many problems they were facing, one being a concern about mob rule. The Founding Fathers did not want the common folk to hold too much power over the process. They felt the electors were better equipped to make such monumental decisions, and their will could prevent the “mob” of citizenry from choosing a less-than-desirable candidate. However, the Framers did not anticipate the rise of political parties (or “factions”), but factions took hold soon after the ratification of the Constitution. The electors were voting along “party lines” almost from the beginning. According to the political scientists Edwards and Wattenberg in their book Government in America, “the idea of electors exercising independent judgments is a constitutional anachronism.” It doesn’t seem plausible, therefore, that the College prevents mob rule. Every Vote Equal has this to say about the concern:

 The American people currently cast votes for President in 100% of the states…In case anyone thinks it is appropriate to characterize the American electorate as a “mob” it is long-settled that the “mob” already rules in American presidential elections…[It’s] not whether the “mob” will vote for President, but whether the “mobs” in battleground states  should be more important than the “mobs” in the remaining states.

Additionally, almost all other presidential countries in the world elect their presidents directly; this is not a new, untested concept.

Another concern that comes up a lot is the notion that the electoral college is protecting smaller or more rural states from being ignored by the candidates and drown out by bigger states. It seems the current system is doing little to bring candidates to smaller or more rural states. What it does do, however, is makes a few select states more important than all others, simply because of their undecided status. Those states come in various sizes and have diversified demographics, as do the many states currently ignored. If battleground states didn’t exist, we would likely see changes in how candidates conduct their campaigns. Although we can’t know exactly what that would look like, even Trump has claimed that if the winner were based on popular votes he would have “campaigned differently.” Perhaps we Oregonians would have the same chance to interact with the candidates that Floridians do.

If the National Popular Vote were to go into effect, all citizens could be secure in the knowledge that their vote counts. Whether you’re a republican or a democrat, whether you live in Oregon or Ohio, your vote would have just as much power as everybody else’s. People could have faith in our democratic institutions, and that might boost voter participation. In fact, Silberstein claims that “turnout is about 11% higher in battleground states.” Evidence exists that corroborates this assertion, and although correlation doesn’t guarantee causation, it is promising.

The Electoral College is undermining democracy in America and adversely affecting voters. The National Popular Vote is a great solution to this issue. It is straight-forward, Constitutional, and fair. Civic participation can be rewarding and satisfying, but we need to ensure that each vote counts. Supporting this legislation is an easy way to bolster democratic ideals and equality. To find out more, you can visit nationalpopularvote.com. If you’d like to express your support for the legislation, please look up your state rep and senator (if you don’t already know them) (at oregonlegislature.gov if you’re an Oregonian), and give their office a call to encourage them to vote for this measure.

One person, one vote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Reaching Out and Letting Go

I haven’t been posting. I’m busy with school and life. But I wanted to post something I back_to_school_chalkboardwrote for a class. I’m pretty proud of this essay and just wanted to share. The assignment is from English Comp. (a required course) and we were directed to write a “Literacy Memoir.” Bascically start off with a personal narritve that demonstrates our “literacy quality” (whatever that is!) and end in an essay form, with commentary about said quality.

I hope you enjoy!

On Reaching Out and Letting Go

Scrolling through Facebook, a status from my father appears in my feed. Before I can even read the words, just seeing his name causes an immediate tightening in my stomach. It’s that feeling your muscles make when you’re preparing for a punch in the gut. I know this feeling well by now; It has come over me countless times in similar situations. As my abdominals are clenching, I mentally steel myself against the garbage I will undoubtedly encounter. And suddenly there it is: “If you voted for Obama twice, you’re too stupid to argue with.” I feel the heat rise to my face while a combination of soul-searing anger and despondency course through my body.

It’s 2014, Obama is well into his second term, congressional midterm elections are fast approaching, and the partisanship in the country is becoming increasingly stormy and ugly. Fox News has continued its crawl toward becoming a permanent brainwashing earworm embedded in the minds of previously functioning human Republicans, and the rise of Breitbart and Info Wars has started to compound this effect. The discord is also inflamed by the simple fact that we have a black president. That is really all it took to push this country over the precipice from run-of-the-mill social and political divisions into this black chasm of senseless hostility and irrational fear. Formerly lucid people seem to morph into mindless zombies, lured into the mob mentality by extremists.

Every time I see my previously semi-sane father’s posts on Facebook my blood pressure skyrockets, I brace myself for the offense I will undoubtedly feel, and I pull emotionally further away from him. He’s a serial sharer of bullshit propaganda, much of which either has no basis in what most of us experience as reality or is simply some flavor of bigoted hype. It’s like I’m spinning the wheel of misfortune every time he posts. I’m waiting to see if it’s the Mexicans, blacks, Muslims, or women that I’ll be defending, or whether to hold my tongue instead and avoid conflict. They usually sound something like this to me: “Why should I have to press 1 for English?! We’re in ‘Murica don’t cha know!?” Other times he’s passing along a completely baseless claim about some politician, making some cold-hearted generalization about Democrats, or just spreading outright lies about policy, laws, or whatever the Orwellian-meme-generators made up that day. He never has anything original to say about these posts; He’s just another link in the chain of hatred and misinformation. And this chain is slowly squeezing the humanity and critical thinking ability out of him.

I had recently gotten into quite an argument with a friend of my dad’s over one of his posts. I challenged him to produce sources, facts, or any other support for his posts and suggested that it’s not difficult to do these days. His friend jumped in to defend him, accusing me of disrespecting my father, who she seems to think deserves some pre-set level of respect simply because he sired me and sacrificed a portion of his paychecks to rear me. She wrote “you make him sound like a stupid uneducated individual that doesn’t have the brains to check the facts before he posts, likes or shares a post” and went on to call me “disrespectful” and “nasty.” She was defending a person who has no qualms with regularly sharing all manner of bigoted, violent, degrading, and misleading squib, and who also seems to believe facts are unknowable, heavily guarded secrets held by the Illuminati. But I’m the one who is disrespectful and nasty because I don’t let those things go by unexamined.

This ultimately unproductive, yet maddening quarrel is fresh in my mind as I see my dad’s name in my feed and the eventual Obama meme about voting and stupidity. This gem comes only days after he had shared: “That Obama sticker on your car might as well say ‘Yes, I’m stupid.’” So my father, who knows full well that I supported Obama in both elections and still do, shared these posts on his wall and didn’t prevent me from seeing them. Whatever the actual truth of the situation, I feel purposefully wounded. My insides burn from the red-hot dagger that has been thrust into me by my own father.

That day was the beginning of the end for my dad and me. I hoped it ultimately wouldn’t be, but it felt inevitable. That post was a tipping point for me. Our family is not one I’d ever describe as “functional” per se, but it was really falling apart now. The political differences and views on social issues was a major concern, but what it really did was shine a light on a lot of other unresolved issues I had with my dad. All the nights I cried because he didn’t come home were once again blazing bright in my mind and an awareness of the lacking intimacy between us had been resurrected. The old feeling that I could never be good enough at anything to receive (and in my mind, deserve) genuine praise, was making an unwelcome reappearance. I heard the harsh words that would come out during one of his mercurial downturns and realized I couldn’t recall the last time I had a real heart-to-heart with my dad, or even if we’d ever had one.

I wrote my dad a letter. A long letter. It addressed several issues including the Facebook interactions, more general observations, concerns, and yes, criticisms. But the real purpose of the letter and the note I ended on was a much more personal one. It was a plea for a different relationship. An expression of my need to have him know me, love me, and move forward from there. It was an airing of grievances I had never expressed before but that were important for me to say and for him to hear. I really wanted to work on things. I wanted to find a comfortable spot that we could coexist in that would foster love and encourage growth and acceptance. This was the appeal I made to him. It took me hours to draft, edit, and adjust the letter. Because I felt I needed reassurance, my husband read it before it was sent. He provided the comfort and encouragement I needed to proceed.

After sending the email, I waited…and waited….and waited. Instead of the love, understanding, and new beginning I was yearning for, I got the cold shoulder. As I pressed for a response, what I got (in order of appearance) was sarcasm, malice, accusations, and non-sensical predications. These jabs stirred up a range of emotions for me including crushing disappointment, but surprise was not one of them. I believe he was too far gone to respond any other way. But I don’t regret what I did or the way I did it. If I could go back, I would change a few minor things in my letter (adjustments that would make it sound less adversarial), but it would still be the written word I would turn to. What I expressed to him would have never been said any other way, and it needed to be said. I wouldn’t have been able to communicate all of that to him over the phone (and with 3000 miles separating us, that would have been the other option). Although I can’t know for certain if he ever actually read the whole thing, it was cathartic for me to get it all out and know that he had it. The ball was in his court and he chose not to return it. It meant I could move on with my life knowing I had tried to reach out. I also decided that I would no longer subject myself to toxic people or situations. I was letting go.

This encounter with my dad illustrates how important literacy is in my life. I would feel like a deaf mute without it. I’ve always loved reading and writing and it’s become increasingly more important and even central to my emotional survival over time. Writing is how I feel most comfortable expressing myself. It’s an unexplainable phenomenon how different writing and speaking are for me. I have a lot of trouble being truly expressive and confident through speech. Perhaps it’s the ever-present thesaurus or the always-an-option delete button in writing that give it such power. Whatever it is, to say it’s integral to my life is not quite hyperbole.

It’s in the context of political and social issues that my literacy is most expressed and important these days. The emotions raised by these topics often result in an outpouring of written words. I tend to feel like I will burst if I cannot release the tension created by holding in those views and feelings. And while I desperately wish I had a greater audience, it’s the process of writing that provides much needed relief and clarity. I hope to reach people one day with my words and maybe change some minds or provide motivation. For now, however, just being able to say what I mean and put it out there into the universe is good enough.

I would not be able to do those things if I did not have the literacy skills needed to understand the issues and to evaluate and analyze information. Choosing relevant, reliable, and well-written news, reading or listening to it, and fully comprehending not only the literal meaning of what is being reported, but the implications, possible consequences, and how it fits into a larger picture can be daunting. Without a solid literacy foundation, it would be nearly impossible. At times I use my literacy skills to fact-check, perform basic research, or source information for one purpose or another.

Based on what I learn, I construct possible realities in my mind of what I think the “real world” is. I try to connect things that may seem separate, find underlying motivations or goals, look for explanations for what seems wrong, etc. These constructed realities are not always fully fleshed out and they change and morph into new things fluidly. But they are how I make sense of the world around me. It may sound like my house is plastered with papers tacked down and connected by incoherent webs of red string, like you might see on Homeland, but I promise it’s not.

I’ve vacillated when it comes to life goals, commitment to higher education, participation in the political process, and any number of other factors that determine the life I’m living. Literacy, however, has always been part of me. It is perhaps more prominent now than ever before. I’ve returned to college after a long dry spell, which was preceded by several halfhearted attempts at obtaining a degree. I am majoring in political science this time and feel a real drive to complete a program. My need to understand the world and communicate about it and with it is stronger than ever, and I hope to eventually use that desire and my literacy skills to do something rewarding and contributory. I don’t know yet what that will look like, but I can’t wait to find out!

 

Another Stupid Congressman Makes Another Stupid Remark

When will these people learn?

Yet another member of congress makes a ridiculous suggestion about how people should get better healthcare. This time it’s Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) who has suggested to a mother that her son should simply get a better job if he wants thorough and affordable healthcare. Read the article Here.

How out of touch with reality can these people be?? First off, do they think high paying jobs with great benefits just grow on trees? And that just anybody can get them? And that everybody is qualified for such jobs because of the education and skills they possess? Umm….NO. None of that is true. Not everybody has the skills or education to qualify for those jobs (especially considering how little the GOP cares about quality education and affordable college for all Americans). Even if everybody had the same opportunity to get a quality education, not everybody is cut out for higher level learning. Plus, there isn’t an unlimited number of high wage jobs available in the United States anyway. And since nobody seems to want to pay a living wage or provide decent health benefits to those people who are never going to be qualified for higher paying jobs, then what are they supposed to do? Suffer because they’re not smart enough or educated enough to make more money? Even if they aren’t “lazy takers” and are willing to work full time to make a living?

And lastly, is he suggesting that everybody who is currently in a low-paying job in the service industry or retail should simply quit those jobs and go get higher paying jobs (as if they wouldn’t if they could….see the points above)? Because if that’s what he’s suggesting and just for arguments sake let’s say it was actually possible and people could just do that….who the hell is going to serve us food, cash us out at Target, pump our gas, or bag our groceries? If everybody was qualified for high paying jobs with great benefits and there were enough of those jobs for all adults in America to have one, who would actually opt to take a job in a restaurant or grocery store or gas station?? Nobody, that’s who! You fucking moron!

And where would that leave our economy and society if it could happen? Would all service, food industry, and retail jobs be taken over by A.I.? It doesn’t really matter, because none of the proposition is realistic in the first place! At least not with the current state of things. The idiots that spew this bullshit don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. And this is coming from someone who should know much less about most things than our congresspeople. But it seems to me that much of this is common sense and we should all be able to see that. It’s a sad and scary world we’re living in when someone like this guy can get elected.

 

 

 

Not Enough Time….

Why I haven’t been writing and what I’ve been up to.

It seems like there is just never enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to….and do them well. So I admit, I’ve let this blog fall to the wayside. I never expected much out of it beyond personal relief at being able to express myself with the written word, but I’m still disappointed that I haven’t kept it up. I’m not going to make any promises or set some ambitious goal for posting, but I will try to use this venue more often if I can.

Last you heard from me I was contemplating a big change: College. Since then (a little over a month ago) I made my decision final and started pursuing it. I looked into local colleges and universities and explored some interesting application options. Ultimately I decided on what’s called co-admittance between the area community college and Portland State University. It will give me the flexibility to attend classes at either school or both at the same time. It’s also only one application process and financial aid is disbursed between schools. Another great benefit is being able to use services, such as the library and advising, at both schools.

Education - Billboard on the Sunrise Background.

In this last month I was able to see an admissions adviser, make a decision, complete the application process, submit my financial aid paperwork, get accepted (yay!), set up my online student accounts, see academic advisers at both schools, take an at-home math placement exam and start working on a module to improve my placement, do an online orientation for one of the schools, and decide on a major and minor. Whew…it’s been a busy month 🙂

I know majors can change and I’m ok with that being a possibility. But I also feel like I’m old enough that I should at least start with a plan. So I’m majoring in Political Science with a Public Service focus and minoring in Sociology. Both of those topics interest me and I think they play well together. I don’t know exactly what might come out of this as far as jobs go, but I’m hoping it’ll fill what feels like a crater-sized educational hole in my life.

I’m currently terrified, excited, and am jumping out of my skin to get started. I won’t be able to actually attend classes until June and the schedule for summer session doesn’t even get released for another two weeks. I think I’ll use this time to work on my math placement and get my life and space more organized so I’m ready to go when the time comes. This is going to be an interesting adventure. I’m already exhausted just thinking about it! But I know that sticking it out will be a great source of pride and happiness in my life.

happiness path (2)

 

photo credit: Inspirational Quotes Inspirational ‪Quote‬ via photopin (license)

More About Reaching Out

How coming from a place of kindness and curiosity can make a real difference.

Today I’m just going to let somebody else do the talking. This TED Talk was powerful. She has a unique perspective and it’s totally worth the 15 minutes of listening. I keep struggling to be open, less condescending, and less judgmental. This was a good reminder of why it’s important and how if done right it can make an impact.

Contemplating Something Big (part 1)

Regret can be crushing and fear can be paralyzing. How I’m coping with them.

For years I’ve suffered under the crushing weight of regret. Regrets both big and small tend to drag me under, all while I smile and pretend they don’t bother me. I act like I don’t care what people think of me, that regret is useless, and since nothing can be done to change the past I don’t dwell on it. Those things I project outwardly, but for the most part they aren’t my truth. Things I did in my teens still haunt me even as I careen toward 40! I have more regrets than I can possibly write about. But there’s one big one that has been nagging me more and more frequently and more and more forcefully: Never getting a college degree.

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future. –  Fulton Oursler

All through grade school and high school I was an excellent student but things got really messy senior year. Due to various circumstances I ended up with a GED instead of a diploma and after high school I starting at a two year college instead of university. I won’t recount all the details of my ensuing college experiences but needless to say they never amounted to much. I’ve gone to community colleges several times but never walked away with anything more than one fully finished term under my belt. My focus vacillated from journalism to nursing to business….

During much of this time I was in and out of destructive relationships, partying heavily, aWoman and drops of rainnd dealing with my ongoing mental health issues without effective treatment (or any treatment much of the time). Eventually I did find the wonderful man that became my husband and he has been a great influence on me. Over the course of our 14 years together I have certainly settled down, grown up, and sought treatment.

Never has my regret about being uneducated and having zero professional skills or experience been more glaring, frustrating, or embarrassing to me than right now. Although I’ve always felt shame surrounding these issues and a theoretical desire to correct them, I’ve never felt really driven to remedy them. And perhaps as importantly, never felt I had the ability to do so. Some of the obstacles that have been apparent are of course easily measured such as monetary concerns or our continual geographic upheaval during my husbands time in the military on active duty.

I think, however, the things that have actually held me back the most cannot be measured in dollars or miles. My lack of confidence, limiting perfectionism, past inability to follow through and stick things out are a few glaring concerns. Tack on a low tolerance for stress and uncertainty about my emotional well-being and you have a pretty compelling argument against any action. I mean really, who would bet against those odds?

Grunge American flag

So why am I even thinking about such things now? A few reasons. The most tangible is that I feel REALLY driven to DO something now that our country seems to be in mortal danger. I feel like it’s a combination of patriotism, motherly protection, and self preservation that is driving this desire. I am a firm believer and defender of democracy, the concept of our nation as one of inclusion, and of our place as a leader and model for the world. I truly feel like all of those tenets are in peril.

Education is the development of power and ideal. – W. E. B. Du Bois

The fears arising are spurring me toward more action and interest than I’ve ever felt before. I know I can be helpful in small ways to fight for better outcomes but those limited tasks and gestures, as worthy as they are, don’t feel like enough for me. But I lack the education and credentials necessary to fulfill my potential. Without additional education, I’ll never be a campaign manager, run for office or be a congressional staffer or researcher. I’ll never become a journalist or analyst or have any meaningful position in a not-for-profit or community organization. In essence, my ambition is stunted.

The other reason I’m even letting these ideas rattle around inside my head now has to do with where I am in life. I feel I’ve been undergoing a transformation for some time now. Little things have started to improve and I’ve made some positive changes. I love my current therapist, my current medication routine seems to be working well, and overall I just feel better somehow, despite all the shittiness in the world and the inevitable anger and sadness that causes. In fact, my current soundness undeterred by the soul crushing world we’re living in shows progress.

I’m not sure how to accurately describe what I am barely able to recognize myself, but indeed it does feel like something. Perhaps it is a maturity of sorts, a growing into oneself that just naturally happens as you are approaching 40. I’ve been trying to do more lately, more things that scare me, more things that are outside my wheelhouse, things that generally I wouldn’t have the fortitude to try before. It’s not as if I’m feeling an abundance of confidence right now though. It’s more a drive to do things despite not having a ton of assurance. I suppose what I’m feeling now is simply more courage as opposed to confidence. Since there are still fears, the fact that I’m trying them anyway seems more courageous than confident.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. – Mark Twain

I’m certainly not “cured” of all my neurosis and I definitely still have moments and mini breakdowns. I do feel a much greater drive though to keep going, keep trying, and I want to translate that into something real and tangible. I know trying to get a college degree right now will be immensely difficult and has so many obstacles in it’s way that I may not be able to overcome them. But I’m not going to let myself drop the idea without at least exploring it. I’m going to keep thinking about it and pursuing information. I’ve already begun some research and plan to do more.

I’ll be using this topic as a regular feature on the blog and hope it’ll be an interesting journey to take. Whether it dies in 3 weeks, 3 years, or lives and succeeds, there will be stories to tell.

regret-quote-2-2

The Importance Of Involvement

Why participation in local party politics is crucial to the Resistance.

Being involved in local politics and your local Democratic Party can be personally rewarding as well as politically effective. As  E.J. Dionne Jr.  points out “power in a democratic nation comes from winning elections…a two-party system…requires picking sides.” Partisanship and polarization are a real problem right now but that does not mean you have to eschew participation with your party. What I believe it means is that we have to be more engaged because part of our engagement can focus on breaking the polarization cycle.

Persuade

Being involved enough to participate in primaries (which is as easy as registering as a democrat) means that you have a chance to put a candidate on the ticket in a general election that will have broad appeal and may be better at bridging divides than creating them. Volunteering with your local party office might mean helping disseminate information to voters, in which case you’ll have an opportunity to close the gap by gently reassuring voters of the party’s commitment to the issues that they care about. If you’re a voting member of the county party, you will have a direct say in the platform that they support.

The ways in which direct involvement in the party process will help us win elections are numerous and varied. You are sure to find yourself some volunteer opportunities that fit your time, lifestyle, and personality. If you don’t have the time or inclination to get hands-on in the efforts, monetary donations are an important factor as well so a donation(s) would be a helpful gesture.

The localized activist groups like those created through the Indivisible Guide are doing some awesome work and have had a huge impact on civilian participation and attention. They have been instrumental in drawing attention to issues and galvanizing people toward action and participation. But we also need the structure and organization of a strong central party to start winning elections. No amount of activism will make much of a dent if we continue to lose elections both large and small. You can protest something till your voice runs out and you’re dead on your feet but if we don’t have the numbers in the legislatures and executive branches, none of it will matter much. As this article in The Nation mentions “organizations need to figure out how to persuade The Democratic Partyenough of the politically passive citizenry…to vote, and to vote democratic.”
Please help support strong candidates and get involved in voter education and turn-out efforts. I attended my first central committee meeting of the Democratic Party in my county last night and became a voting member by applying to be a PCP (Precinct Committee Person). I encourage similar actions for anybody like me who has never been vote-1319435_1280involved on that grassroots party level before and a deeper commitment for those already there. Let’s Resist by Persisting!