Tomorrow will mark the last day of, by far, the longest single project I’ve ever worked on. 8+ months of encouraging people to vote. Pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, calling strangers up, training large classes of workers, assembling offices and organizing teams; stuff that should’ve given me multiple Xanax prescriptions-worth of anxiety attacks but didn’t. I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it, including the time the elderly man threatened to shoot me for parking on his swale and the time I didn’t pay attention to the clouds and had to walk a mile back to my car in a thunderstorm without an umbrella.
I’ve also been careful to not be politically reactive or dramatic, probably failed a couple times, but so it goes. I found out that someone who I talk to every day and is one of my closest confidants, ignored my requests and reminders to early vote, went on a roadtrip, and won’t be back until after the polls close.
Yeah, I’ll be honest: my first thought was about me. “They’re one of my best friends. They’ve let me vent to them about the occasional shit shower, cracked up at the funny moments on my job. How the fuck could they care so little about the 3 trimesters worth of work I’ve put in?” I’d already reconciled that there will be people who Like every meme I repost, gloss over my election stuff and just won’t vote for whatever reason. This one stung though.
Then I forced myself to take a step back and think about the experiences I’ve had on this job and what voting means to so many. I thought about the 28 year old mom with 3 kids in a sauce splattered apron who, even though her English wasn’t the best and my Spanish isn’t either, stopped in the middle of cooking dinner to talk to me in the building’s dirty hallway for 10 minutes about public education and Amendment 4 to restore ex-felons’ voting rights. About last week when I was walking past the little old dude in a Vietnam Veteran’s hat on his way to the poll who stopped me when I thanked him for his service, shook my hand in both of his, showed me the Bronze Star pinned to his wallet that he earned in Hell serving this country, and told me he always voted early.* I thought about The Haunteeeed Caravan of evil, below-the-border ne’er do wells who have traversed thousands of miles of desert and cartel and gang land, who know they might face the greatest military in the world when they try to come in, and how historically, naturalized citizens have had some of the highest voter participation rates.
So if you’re not going to vote for whatever reason or figure you’ll take care of it at some point tomorrow without having an actual plan, please, please think carefully why people are willing to die for this right. Think about the feeling that the first citizens in your family must have gotten when they cast their first ballots as Americans. Think about how so many of the past several Florida elections have been decided by 1% of voters and think about how we have a state government that has banned the use of the term “climate change” by its employees, or about Pulse and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, or about how all of the Republican candidates want to stop subsidized insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Think about your air, your water, your earth, your partner and your kids and yes, definitely your cat and your dog. Shit, if this is what it takes, think only about yourself and don’t give a damn about anyone else.
Every aspect of our millions of lives are affected by just a few thousand people wearing suits. Do you want the ones who care about you or the ones who don’t?
This article was filed by Jay Est who spent the last eight months harassing South Florida to vote.