Taking Election Day 2020 off seemed like the thing to do a few weeks ago and I had accumulated some paid time off, so here I am. At a keyboard, at home, just like every other day since March.
If I weren’t in what’s considered a high-risk group for COVID-19, I might have signed up to work at the polls, but here I am. Instead, I decided to take a look around. I set off late morning and drove by and/or stopped at four of our local voting locations to see if people were behaving and what the lines might look like.
Each place I visited was so quiet only the signs provided evidence that today was important. There was plenty of free parking near the St. Vrain Community Hub, the Moose Lodge, and at Front Range Community College. As I walked by the Hub, someone offered me coffee and snacks, which I politely declined. The few humans around outside wore masks, like all responsible people.
It was only as I pulled away from the building at the Boulder County Fairgrounds that I spotted a line. That it was just a few geese made me smile.
That’s how easy it is to vote when you get your ballot in the mail well ahead of time. You can mail it right back or drop it in a collection box, like Mrs. Smith and I did a few weeks ago near where those geese showed up today.
It’s still early in the day right now, and things could change, and I’m sure they’ll be quite different in Denver and many other places, but I’m happy with voting in Colorado for now.
Got my ballot gonna mail it in
Or drop it off because I can
Because I'm free and it's my right
And duty to put up a fight
When fools and bigots try to run
This, my country, with their guns
And lies and hate and broken laws
But truth and justice is our cause.
Being terrified about having a wannabe dictator sitting in the Oval Office is understandable right now.
Well over 200,000 people have died during the coronavirus pandemic on our acting president’s watch because he is incompetent and he doesn’t care. He continues to ignore ongoing Russian meddling in our politics and V. Putin’s payment of bounties to reward killers of U.S. troops. The election is a few weeks away, and he toys with the notion of remaining in power despite voters’ decisions.
If you’ve been paying attention, you can rattle off dozens if not hundreds of other reasons for fear and outrage.
Terror is a weapon in this impeached, would-be despot’s arsenal – along with intimidation, lies, obstruction of justice, fear-mongering, financial fraud and numerous other high crimes and misdemeanors – but that doesn’t mean declaring ourselves “terrified” on social media or anywhere else is helpful.
As frightened, disgusted and outraged as you may be, I encourage you all to focus on being determined rather than terrified.
Be determined to stop the assault on our freedom.
Be determined to vote and to get others to vote.
Take to the streets in active, peaceful protest if that is something you can do. Keep your eyes wide open and decide where, when and how you can be most effective. The stakes are high.
Yes, doing something can be risky. Doing nothing is the bigger risk.
Some of us are better writers than we are speakers. That includes me.
I meant well when I signed up to help with a Sierra Club Get Out the Vote effort by making phone calls. Before the 30-minute training was over, I realized my time would be better spent writing GOTV letters.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m way better at it.
This is one of those times when writers and other artists do well to examine how they can make the best use of their skills.
If you can talk and write, know that there’s an urgent need to call people to encourage them to vote and tell them why you think it’s important. Not so good on the phone? Sign up to write letters or texts.
The reasons to vote are many and my guess is you’re aware of them. One that should be especially important to writers right now is the First Amendment.
Whether you write or edit news, nonfiction, sci-fi, fantasy or some other genre – or if you express yourself through photography, visual arts, performing arts – your right to do that is under attack to an extreme we have not seen in the United States in a long time.
By the time the Denver Post landed on my driveway* this morning, Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca’s plan to replace policing with peacekeeping in Denver had already been thoroughly rejected by the city council.
That surprised no one. Still, columnist Vincent Carroll belittled the plan as “half-baked” and used nearly 800 words to explain some but not all of the disparities in arrest rates between the Black and White communities.
He graciously gave us all permission to “dismiss the arrest statistics as additional evidence of racial bias,” so feel free to have at it. Here’s the column.
Carroll also felt compelled to tell us, while explaining some but not all of the aforementioned disparities, “The violent crime rate really is higher in some communities.”
No shit, Vince. It is what it is, you might as well have written.
That is not a reason to reject out of hand the very idea of rethinking and even replacing failed, seriously flawed police forces. Stop apologizing and excusing and start to think a little harder about the root causes of these life-and-death issues and how to deal with them.
Feel free to start with this concept:
When the pot of water starts to boil over, you don’t turn up the heat. You turn it down.
*We canceled our home delivery subscription a couple of months ago and went digital-only. The newspaper mysteriously began showing up here again a week or so ago, quickly followed by two unauthorized withdrawals from our checking account totaling just shy of $100. Repeated calls and complaints have yet to resolve the issue or get us a refund.