Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
It’s been said that tomorrow’s midterm elections are the most important of our lives. For some of us, that goes back quite a way. The first time I ever voted was in 1976, which seems a lifetime ago now (because it was a lifetime ago), and in the rebellious spirit of the day I tossed my vote to Eugene McCarthy, who was running as an independent. Jimmy Carter managed to defeat Gerald Ford in spite of me.
Ever since then, I’ve voted in every election I’ve had the opportunity to vote in. I always had that patriotic drive, the sense that this is my chance to be heard, even if my vote has never been the deciding one. Few of us ever have that distinction—a handful of Floridians, maybe. But that should never dissuade us from voting. In fact, it shouldn’t inspire us to vote either. The meaning of the vote is the power in numbers, not the possibility that your vote will make the literal difference. In numbers we’re heard by those who hold the power. And in numbers we can have an influence on the direction of the country.
And that’s why tomorrow’s elections are so important. People like me—and Carl Reiner, who’s ninety-six—have never seen a political climate like the one stalled over us today. We’ve never had the feeling, even in the Nixon years, that democracy itself was on the ballot. It has never felt like a true turning point, where the country could make a choice that changes its history and its destiny, and if you have the same sentiment about America’s meaning and destiny as I do, you believe it would be tragic if it went off the rails in the way that now seems possible for the first time since the Civil War.
So I hope you’ll forgive a little proselytizing now and take what I’m about to say in the spirit in which it’s intended:
If you’re registered to vote in your state, do everything you can to cast your vote tomorrow. Find out where your polling place is in advance. Get there early if you can, because sometimes GOP elections officials find ways to foul up the works and cause delays that might make some people give up. Don’t give up. Vote no matter what.
And vote for Democrats. As ex-conservative and Washington Post columnist, Max Boot, says, “Vote against Republicans. Every single one.” In this environment, Republicans have grown craven and need to be replaced.
Former GOP senator, John Warner, puts it a slightly different way, after endorsing Democrats: “It goes beyond politics now.”
This is one time in our political lives when voting party over person is going to spell the difference. If you haven’t been paying much attention to the federal races in your state, vote Democrat anyway. We have to apply the system of checks and balances to the GOP now, and the only way to do that is to vote Democratic so they can control the House of Representatives.
But you know all of this already.
The Senate is probably not in play, but vote for the Democrat all the same. Close races will make a statement. The closer the better. We might lose Claire McCaskill, John Tester, and Joe Manchin, and we might not get Beto O’Rourke, but if the balance is razor-thin it means we’re serious about fighting back.
Be sure to vote in your state-house races as well. We need to un-gerrymander the reprehensible gerrymandering the GOP has engaged in and level the playing field again. Returning Democrats to power in the states is the only way to achieve it.
If you’re not registered to vote, you can register on election day in these states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
If you’re not registered, and your state doesn’t offer same-day registration, you can still volunteer to help get out the vote. You can join efforts to drive other voters to their polling places. You can make calls. Contact your Democratic candidate’s campaign and ask where to show up for phone banking. You can help.
I voted by mail, and for future reference I’d encourage college students and voters in states with known voter-suppression histories to do so as well. We can do an end-run around their undemocratic strategies. If they’re screwing around with your polling place or IDs or purges, go over their heads. Next time vote early by mail.
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I’m all hollowed out by what could happen. It’s hard to imagine living in a country that is willingly abrogating democracy by handing power to a party that has gone autocratic in plain sight, yet we already have one foot in those tainted waters. A House of Representatives that will not stand up to a corrupt president is a Potemkin body. It’s a tool of tyranny. (And words like tyranny are no longer hyperbolic, I’m sad to say.)
Two years ago we watched as the arc of history was wrenched away from its tendency toward justice. Tomorrow we have to take hold of it again and return it to its righteous course.
Vote, and please vote Democrat.