What do these people have in common?
A 24-year-old white female food truck owner, a 32-year-old Latino day laborer and a 45-year-old African American female hospital worker.
A 27-year-old male convenience store clerk from the Middle East, a 34-year-old white female physician and a 70-year-old retired African American nurse.
The commonality is none of them are my relatives or close personal friends. They are also people whom I have engaged each of the past weeks to encourage to vote.
Voting is central to a functional democratic government, and it is our duty as citizens of the U.S. to participate in this foundational practice.
Below are nine actions I plan to carry out between now and the November election, including several items related to political discussions.
These nonpartisan reflections are the result of several months of disparate thoughts about our nation, which faces the most important election of my lifetime.
- Encourage others to vote.
All of the interactions noted above were pleasant and respectful with no mention of partisan politics, and several led to more significant discussion.
These individuals are participants in a pledge I made to myself one week ago – to encourage one person every day between now and Nov. 3 to use their constitutional right to vote (not how to vote) and leverage their power at the ballot box.
- Sign up with my county registrar to work the voting polls.
With concern that mail-in ballots may not be able to be adequately handled by the USPS, this helps to ensure no polling place will have to close.
I am willing to schedule a day or week of vacation to keep this commitment if needed.
Additionally, many older citizens who have historically worked the voting polls do not need to risk exposure to the coronavirus, making it imperative that younger people volunteer to fill these positions.
- Make it well known I am willing to drive anyone without transportation to the voting polls on Election Day.
I have and will continue to reach out through my networks to let them know I have family and friends who are also available to help those without transportation.
- Donate my time, energy and resources to organizations, such as GoodFaithMedia.org.
This group encourages people daily to be more informed citizens and provides sound ethical analyses for the contentious issues facing all voters.
Certainly, many other organizations (apart from those exclusively political) are doing fine work as well; pick one and support it.
- Engage in sociopolitical discussions with family and friends, including how my faith affects my vote.
I will do so when appropriate or if my opinion is sought. I will strive to be respectful and will actively listen, particularly when views differ from my own.
Above all, I will be truthful. I will also call out false statements.
- Share information of a political nature only after I have researched the veracity and source of the facts.
Obviously, not everyone will agree with my viewpoint or position on a specific issue or candidate. However, I can control the flow of information from my end.
I will not relay false information, character assassination, hoax type material – even if it supports my partisan position.
- Financially support my preferred candidates when feasible.
I will support organizations that promote my views, particularly if smaller or outside the mainstream, only after proper vetting. I place the onus on myself for such investigation.
- Refuse to engage in discourse or be a consumer of statements, material or positions that are half-truths, mistruths, lies, racist, xenophobic, vulgar or misogynistic.
- Declaratively and forcefully address the issues mentioned above in point eight.
I cannot change that which I am willing to tolerate. This is, I think, a nuanced distinction and perhaps one of our greatest shortcomings as a people.
We can no longer allow false narratives and lies to go unchallenged. The artfulness comes in how best to address such harmful falsehoods.
I would posit a firm pronouncement once stated stands on its own and that “there is no virtue in sustained denunciation.”
Stated more colloquially, I have yet to see any deeply held position changed based on social media rantings, diatribes or nastiness.
I have seen change when folks interact personally and civilly. When no ground is to be gained, I am willing to walk away from the conversation.
I write these words partly from frustration but hopefully to encourage some small better way forward these next two months.
Ultimately, everything between now and Nov. 3 is noise, chatter as it were, until this nation’s citizens use their immense power of the vote. Our national goal should be 100% voter turnout.
For those wondering what you can do, if nothing else, please reread the first point above and just imagine what an impact this could have if 10% of our citizenry did this.