Skip to main content

People Power

The first election I was able to vote in would have been the spring 1994 primary. The first election I actually voted in was autumn's general election of 2004. Ten years went by where my right to vote went unused. People had fought and died -- in wars and in the streets -- for my right to vote, and I'd case it aside with the usual excuses of, 'They're all crooked, anyway, so it doesn't matter,' or 'My right to vote is balanced with my right not to vote.' Meanwhile, elections came and went, policy was decided, and I'd had nary an input.

Things changed in 2004, and the world (for better or worse) has George W. Bush to thank for me getting me off my keister and becoming politically involved. With the Bush administration, the two main sticking points (though there were others) were our handling of the Iraq War, and lack of seeing the LGBTQ community as equal citizens. Karl Rove's orchestration of the culture wars was in full swing, and I felt under attack. I wanted to join the political arena, and started with the local Democratic Party be default (it certainly wasn't going to be the Republicans, with Bush at the helm). Involvement led to running for office and, well, here we are.

I was thinking about this as the election results came in across the country on the night of Tuesday, November 7th, and Democrats and minority candidates swept many of the races. Maine voters said they wanted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. States all across the country, from New Hampshire to Washington, and municipalities from Boston to Boise, saw a plethora of minority candidates elected to office. Out and proud people from the LGBTQ community, as well as women, African-American, Asian, Indian, Sikh and more, will now represent constituents across the nation. As the results came in during the evening, I thankfully tweeted that it was a good night for America.

We are a country with a wonderful myriad of people, from different backgrounds, ethnicity, religions, orientations, etc. It is our commonality. It is, in my opinion, what makes us strong. It would seem logical for this great cross-section of people to be represented by those who are like them. Last week, we got a little closer to that. I hope that some day it is no longer newsworthy when we elect a Sikh mayor, a transgender city council member, or a gay representative. I hope we reach a point where it becomes so commonplace when we elect these people that, instead of generating headlines, our reaction will be to say, 'Of course we did.' It means our society will be in a much better place.

It is unfortunate that it sometimes takes a negative in order to create a positive, but then that's human nature, isn't it? We need motivation, even if it's antagonistic. I remained listless about politics until George W. Bush pissed me off. For many others, it was Donald Trump. Whatever it takes for us to become engaged. We all have our moment when it's time to become involved, whatever our beliefs or political affiliations are. And there will be hills and valleys, highs and lows. We just need to remain engaged in the process.


Popular posts from this blog

The Best Superhero Movies of All-Time, Revisited

We are just a few days away from the North American release of Avengers:Infinity War. While I am dutifully going to see it opening night, it's not a film I'm looking forward to. It is (spoiler) part one of two, which means we can expect plenty of plot threads left dangling when the credits roll. In other words, part two will probably be better, and provide some actual resolution. Also, Thanos looks like a CGI yawn-fest. Hopefully, I'll be proved wrong.
Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity to rank (again) the major superhero movies (Marvel and otherwise) that we've had so far. As you know, I love making a list, and this one is going to be a definitive one! If you don't see a film on here, it's because I haven't seen it (the first two Thors, Iron Man 2, some of the X-Men features, etc.).   Alright, here we go.

Walk and Chew Gum

Yesterday marked a touchstone moment in the U.S., as students across the country participated in "walkouts." This was an occasion for students to express an array of thoughts and emotions, ranging from a desire for stricter gun control, to simply sorrow over the loss of so many of their peers to school shootings. They were peaceful protests, but protests nonetheless. Where you're at on the spectrum of agreeing or disagreeing with what they did may vary, though not wanting to get shot in your school seems pretty reasonable to me.
Some folks have taken to sharing a meme on social media platforms this week -- in direct anticipation and response to the walkouts -- that encourages students to "walk up, not out." Following are suggestions provided for the walk ups:

Walk UP to the kid who sits ALONE and ask him to join your groupWalk UP to the kid who never has a voluntary partner and offer to be hersWalk UP to your teachers and thank them!Walk UP to someone and JUST …

The Ice Storm

Twenty-eight years ago today was, of course, another Valentine's Day. It was also the day that a great ice storm swept through Champaign County, laying waste to the urban centers of Champaign-Urbana. I was a resident of Champaign at the time, and remember it (mostly) well, though certain exact details are now lost to memory.
February of 1990 saw me living on the north side of town. Mom and I (and her then-partner and step-kids) had moved over to a house in north Champaign. My maternal grandmother, Gummy, having recently moved back to town from Wisconsin, rented a small, cozy house in Urbana. My father still lived in Champaign, in a condo in the south part of town.