Until the presidential election in 2016, I was not involved in activism. Even now I would not call myself an activist, because my efforts are inadequate and inconsistent as I try to balance with other life obligations.
But there was a moment in college when I was moved toward activism, if only for a moment…
In the 1980s, back when rape was called “date-rape” in college settings, my privileged university was happy to look the other way. Fraternity houses were given a mere slap on the wrist, a letter of condemnation, when it occurred in their houses. And it was occurring with disturbing frequency.
I participated with fellow students, primarily women, in a series of demonstrations themed, “Take Back the Night.” These were night vigils during which we walked with candles and signs in support of the young women on campus who were victimized. We were only slightly successful at the time, moderately impacting the administration’s stance.
One experience at a frat party helped me relate. My girlfriend’s guy friend and his pals invited us to look at a loft they constructed in their rooms. We kindly, and perhaps naively, followed them through the halls to see the loft. From the doorway I said that it looked cool and one of them suggested I sit down to try the couch underneath. I crossed the room to the loft and as soon as I sat down was surprised to find he had closely followed my footsteps and plopped himself directly beside me while his friend closed the door while ushering my girlfriend farther down the hall. He lunged toward me and draped his arms around me. Luckily I had not been drinking and had swifter reflexes than him, so I was able to slide low to escape his circling embrace and get up and out of the room before he got off the couch. It was ridiculous. I had only just met him 15 minutes earlier.
So of course when I heard the allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford I believed her, understanding how quickly these things can happen. And after watching her credible testimony and Brett Kavanaugh’s incredible tirade, it was clear to me how true her allegations were.
It also occurred to me that I already protested this guy. Kavanaugh was a senior in college while I was a freshman, so we were contemporaries though at different schools. Essentially, he was the partying privileged frat boy I was raising awareness about, pleading to the administration for real consequences for these young men’s actions. (I’m tired and don’t have time to protest things that should have been addressed years ago. Get me off this merry-go-round!)
But it doesn’t matter to Republicans. If it did, they would not have elected Trump, a self-admitted molester of women. Nor, if women and decency mattered to them, would they have shoved through Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing without a full investigation and despite his ludicrous behavior. Abuse against women is a mere side effect of being drunk with power, and they need power to advance their agenda, right? My Republican friends think they are adhering to core values, because they feel the end justifies the means. The problem is that there is no end. There is simply a continuing downward slide of morals and debasing departures from laws and norms that protect us and our democracy.
In my many years of voting, I have voted both Republican and Democratic in general elections depending on the character and service record of the candidates. I eagerly tune into the national conventions of both major parties, hopeful to be inspired and see the best of humanity emerge. On the national stage in recent years Republicans (not just Trump) have continued to disappoint and now seriously alarm me. What they tolerate in pursuit of power is indeed, dare I say it, deplorable. I hope for party reform out of both parties, but right now mostly I hope we have checks on power.
The days of staying open-minded to both parties are over for the time being. We cannot equivocate and pretend there is parity between the parties. For this election, we need to understand that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We simply cannot have all three arms of federal government, and 30+ state houses ruled by Republican majority. It is rotting our country’s moral core to be so out of balance. So for this election, voting Democratic is the patriotic thing to do to reset the dial and recover some checks and balances.
If you are Republican, relax, this does not mean that everything will turn Democratic overnight. Of the 14 heavily gerrymandered states, 12 states are gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, while only 2 of them are gerrymandered in favor of Democrats. Despite talk of a blue wave, it will be extremely difficult for Democrats to win in most places despite a hefty voter turnout. Democrats need to hope for a landslide of voter turnout in order to squeak a win.
But you can make a difference in making a small but important shift toward a balance in the force.
Vote. Encourage and empower at least two other people to vote. Do you have a friend who has moved and needs to request an absentee ballot? They need to act now, possibly by today or tomorrow, in order to request an absentee ballot, depending on locality. Call your friends today and remind them to register, request ballots, and vote!!! Also double-check your registration to make sure you have not been purged from the voter rolls.
Go to Vote.org. Also check out BallotReady.org to learn more about all candidates on your local ballots.