September 30, 2020

POV: Lean in to the Power of Voting

Newsflash…it is still 2020. For me this means that I am still sending ridiculous gifs and emoji’s to everyone I talk to. My favorite one is a rolling dumpster that is on fire. There is another classic with a person vacuuming up a fire on the carpet. They both make me giggle, roll my eyes, and nod my head in agreement—all depending on the mood I am in and the situation at hand. 

Here’s the deal, we are all 7 months into this chaos and it is wearing each of us in different ways. But I am here to tell you that now is not the time to be become complacent with our circumstances instead we need to take control of what we can and forge ahead to make a community, country, and life that we are proud of and one that brings us joy.  

It is election season and also the ramp up for Utah’s Legislative Session which begins in mid to late January each year. I am not the first to say that there is nothing particularly exciting about elections this year. We are so divided as a country that we can’t see beyond our own needs and opinions. Recently I heard Senator Dan McCay on the podcast Both Sides of the Aisle say something that struck me as profound. It was something like (and I am paraphrasing), “We could all use a little bit of Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsberg’s relationship in our lives”. He was referring to the fact that both those Supreme Court Justices were on opposite sides of many decisions passed down by the Court yet they had a wonderful bond and friendship. It is with this vein that I talk about us, as individuals, being an active participant in making our community, our country and our lives something we can be proud of.  

Participating in the election cycle is a HUGE step into crafting what we want to see. If you are eligible to vote, you should. There are no excuses that I see as valid for not voting, especially in Utah. Vote by mail is easy, accessible, and available. When I hear folks talk about not voting because they don’t like the candidate I get sick to my stomach. No one is perfect and once we put perfection on a mantle we all lose. There are many people in this country who can’t vote (people with felonies, undocumented, etc.) and it’s our job as citizens of this country to step up and elect our leaders. I will forever remember my family’s stories—My paternal Great Grandmother Bertha Bustillos (as a migrant farm family they traveled from the United States to Mexico a lot), and she used to say, “I knew one day it would matter to have my children on the other side of the border” because at the time, the borders were open to migration but somehow she knew one day there would be restrictions. And I always think back to the words of my mom, “It’s important to vote because there was a time when women, especially my grandmother, were not allowed to vote. It’s your job.” My family has a long history of serving our country in the military, giving service in our communities, and voting.  

And here we are in arguably the most heated presidential election, and we are a country divided. There are down ballot races that matter just as much, if not more, than the presidential election. We will vote on judges, school board, state and federal representatives, and council and municipal positions. What happens at the local level tends to have more impact in our daily lives. The issue of face masks and school closures are two solid examples that we are all familiar with.   

Now is not the time to walk away from politics—it is the time to lean in to our power as voting citizens to make the change we want to see and craft our futures. It is incumbent on each of us to harness that power. There are no excuses.  

I recently started running again. My body is both happy and a little out of tune. I had fallen off the running wagon in Spring 2019 and I had forgotten all of the happy things that happen to my body when I run. The clarity that is happening in my soul is a remarkable difference from a month ago. 

You might not be a runner but maybe you are a dancer, a yogi, a macramé maker, a baker, or a scrap-booker, the point is whatever brings you joy I hope that you dig deep and find the motivation to take the first step to do the thing that keeps you centered. We can all use a bit of grounding right now in all of this chaos. And once you are grounded there is more room to think about the ways in which we each can engage in positive change for our futures.  

If you need to register to vote or information on voting and elections, Voterise can help with that. They are a Utah nonprofit dedicated to turning out the vote. If you want to learn about advocacy at your organization, UNA can help with that. We have an Advocacy Essentials training coming up. And if you want to enact policies at your organization that focus on civic engagement and advocacy, UNA can help with that too.  

Politics isn’t something we should be focused on solely around election season. Politics is the engine that fuels the rules that guide us and laws that we have to adhere to. It is something we need to be aware of and engaged in 12 months out of the year.  

Take the steps to make the future you want to see for yourself, your community, and our country.