It’s as unlikely as anything else that has happened this year, that a set of colorful pens would be my political and emotional salvation, but that’s where I am – returning gratefully from despair and, worse, anger, to a sense of purpose and forward motion.
In the beginning of this political cycle, postcards left the house in stacks, aimed at politicians who surely, I reasoned, would be swayed by my volume, my arguments for right and decency, and my serious, black ink. The fact that my efforts have proven naïve and useless, makes it too easy to give up. What can I do? Wait? Close my eyes? Whenever I think about blogging here about anything but politics – such as the glorious garden behind my new home, and the testament to love that is in the offing (after 50 years, my best friend John and I are marrying) – I feel guilt at my own pleasure when everything around me has turned to crap. Everyone but me is suffering, and it’s only getting worse. On the one hand, I’m told, silence is surrender (‘what would you be doing if this was 1939? Exactly this – nothing’), on the other, I’m told that my efforts are at best, those of a privileged white woman who hasn’t got a clue or an ounce of courage. And this, from the people who agree with me about the dangerous hole that we are falling into.
Worst of all, on every side, I see a meanness emerging in our culture and discourse more open and naked than I can ever remember, and it scares me, because it has been creeping into my own heart, too… Until, that is, I bought the pens in bright and optimistic hues.
It’s not that I’ve stopped paying attention, doodling my way blithely to a state of denial. It’s not that I’ve curbed my addiction to the nightly news. It’s not that I’m giving up righteous indignation at the lying, greed, cynicism, ambition, ignorance, and cruelty dancing on the political stage, but I’m not going to live in anger anymore. I will, as long as I am able, resist sinking into the ugly muck where others want to take me. My pens have helped me make a start.
I have switched now to writing to voters, those who ultimately have the power to bring democracy back on course. Nearly ever week there is a special election somewhere in the country, with courageous, optimistic, hard-working Democratic candidates who want a chance to serve. Changing the players is the only way out, and I am volunteering through an organization called Postcards to Voters to help. We send out friendly, cheerful reminders to individual Democrats in the affected local districts to vote in these important, off-season state and national races. Our postcards, of course, are not the only factor in the outcome, but there is evidence the strategy is working and candidates are now attesting to the power of our silly pens. In some cases, districts have actually flipped. In others, the turnout is not quite enough, but shows gains in double digits. That’s why it’s important to keep going. It takes so little effort to reach out, and it feels so dang good.
Every day I hang my pretty cards on the mailbox and think about them wending their way towards someone who will appreciate the connection and will gain strength from the reminder that, though we may be thousands of miles apart, we are not in this alone. There is something we can do to resurrect the values that have made this country great.
Over 10,000 volunteers are now using the Postcards to Voters app to connect with individual voters. They provide you everything you need. If you would like to join us, go to www.PostcardstoVoters.org or email join@Tonythedemocrat.org.