First, some actions you can still take:
- Text encouragement to voters you don’t know with NextGen’s Blue Wave, Resistance Labs, MoveOn.org, or Build the Wave.
- Text encouragement to voters you don’t know with VoteWithMe. “If you give the app permission to access your phone contacts,” writes Brian Gatens, who tried it, “it will sync them to public voting rolls and suggest some you should reach out to — for example, voters registered in a swing district — and draft a suggested text. You can even sort your contacts by party registration or see if they voted in 2014 and 2016.” OutVote is a similar app.
That’s the main thing. If each of us, who will vote ourselves, can inspire one other person to vote, the whole world changes. So I picked Gwen (not her real name), mom to Tim (not his real name), the young partner of my great friend Brad (not his real name). Because here’s the thing: Tim (a student) and Brad (a lawyer) are both totally voting — if only all millennials were, we’d win by a mile — but Tim’s mother Gwen has sworn off politics.
“Whaaaaaaaat?” I asked Tim and Brad. “You have to fix this.”
“She’s very stubborn.”
“You have you have to get her to vote! She’s even in a swing district!”
“We know. We’ve tried.”
“Should I call her?”
Their eyes widened a bit at this, but within hours they had gotten Gwen’s skeptical permission, and I think Gwen and I were both relieved that I got her voice mail. So I left a gentle, heartfelt message, beginning of course — with the added benefit of its being true — with my telling her what a great guy her son is and what a terrific job she had apparently done raising him.
She texted back: “Thank you so much for calling me and the nice words you had for my son. He speaks very very highly of you also. I will consider your words but I hate politics. I think they’re all liars. What these politicians do at this time of year is speak bad of each other. Another reason I cannot stand politics is because I believe that there should not be two sides and that both parties should be ONE. I know that’s not how it works. And I know [Tim] is very passionate about politics. And I respect him for that. I just personally do not believe/trust what ANY candidate says. But I will keep in mind what you said. I personally cannot wait to meet you.”
I replied: “Hey, thanks, [Gwen]! You and I are not liars and I know a lot of these people personally — most of them are not liars either. (Trump is a pathological liar, but Obama and your governor — and so many other Democrats — are not liars!) Democrats mean it when they they say they want to expand health care — and they have. They gave us Medicare and Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. They mean it when they say they want to fight to give your son and [Brad] equal rights — and they’ve made tremendous progress on that despite strong Republican opposition. If good people like you don’t vote — or trust people like me and [Tim] when we tell you how important it is — what are we left with? Don’t give up on our great country or its future. WE NEED YOUR HELP. Thanks again for listening. I’m eager to meet you, too.”
What will Gwen do? Tim and Brad and I are still conspiring. There are thoughts of threatening to withhold holiday visits (if you don’t love me enough to detour half an hour on your way to work to do this for me, why should I . . .) but that seems harsh, and Gwen not being Jewish, she might not react properly. (Does the code of Jewish guilt translate across all upbringings?)
We think a gentle, loving call from Tim Monday night — and perhaps another from his sister early Tuesday morning, on her way to vote — could help. But could it backfire? Can they all find the humor and the familial love in this situation? Would it help to note that she’d likely be canceling out the vote of her ex-husband? Is that the hook?
I don’t know. I just know it shouldn’t be this hard. And it will come down to whether the Gwens of this world — mostly wonderful people — think logically and do something to impose “checks and balances” on the sociopath whom thousands of Russian agents helped install as our leader.
Finally, a couple of your reactions this past week:
Joel Margolis: “OK, 7,200 is an acceptable number; is 72,000 also an acceptable number? what about 720,0000? or 7,200,000 or 72,000,000 or 720,000,000? There are probably a billion people who would like to move to the US. Would you admit all of them? If not, at what number would you say: too many?”
☞ This is a fair question that gets to the crux of things. As I’ve repeatedly acknowledged, reasonable people can disagree — and compromise — when it comes to immigration . . . as the Senate did when Republicans and Democrats joined to pass by a margin of 68-32 comprehensive immigration reform that would have passed the House as well and been signed into law had the House Republican leadership allowed it to come to the floor for a vote. Or (to take a recent example) when Trump said he’d sign any compromise Congress brought him — but then reneged when they did. So that’s part one.
Part two is simply: be realistic. We’ve had what Trump calls horrible laws with open borders and no enforcement etc., etc. long before he arrived and somehow the nation survived. Last year’s caravan dwindled down to just a couple dozen people; this one has already dwindled to 3,200 with a long way to go — facing 20,000 border agents and 2,000 National Guardsmen, and now 5,000 or 10,000 or 15,000 troops . . . and not even seeking to enter the country illegally, seeking asylum. Throwing themselves on our mercy. If people seek asylum for legitimate reasons, we might indeed want to grant them entry. When those reasons are deemed illegitimate, we already turn them away. The chances that millions will arrive on our doorstep, as you fear, seem remote. It’s hard walking thousands of miles to seek asylum. It’s impossible to swim here. And those who can afford airfare from Yemen or Sudan or Nigeria — well, they can’t. But we have mechanisms in place to review their applications if they do. But right now, there simply is no crisis.
Let’s elect thoughtful people and resurrect the reasonable compromise reached in 2013 or craft a new one.
In the meantime, to those genuinely worried about thousands of leprous Honduran rapists and murders invading Kentucky and Montana: rest easy. It’s totally not happening.
Kaye Sandeman: “I love your line about knowing what team you’re on. Media does its best to make it about the personality of the candidates because everything else about politics can be boring to a large part of the population. You don’t see a daily story about the party platform, yet we ALL know Mitt Romney once put his dog in a cage on top of his car. We live in a county run by guns and religion and it’s not working.”
Dennis: “Usually I lean somewhat Republican, but the craziness of this nearly-two-insane-years of everything being topsy-turvy will have me voting straight Democrat Tuesday. The first time ever. Keep making those logical straightforward points, and hopefully the truth on the issues can drown out the scare tactics and lies. P.S. Feel free to use my email if you’d like, but only with my first name please — Dennis (yes, a white, Protestant, married, business owner male…not that this should even need to be said, but I figured I’d mention it given the amazing amount of discounting of folks’ arguments out there because they’re…well, something that’s not white and male).”
Now get out there and text!
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