It’s the day before the midterm elections here in the Not-Yet-United States of America. You can feel the buzz on the interwebs. I spent months trying to figure out what GoTV was, thinking I was missing a new Netflix or Hulu, only to finally figure out it means “Get Out the Vote.” I’m receiving nudges to vote from all my connections on Twitter and Facebook.
There is a lot of voter shaming going on here. It’s been happening since November 8, 2016 (the day “45,” “Trumpster,” the “Twitler” was elected). First they blamed the “deplorables,” then they blamed White women, now it seems particularly fun to blame the people who didn’t vote—of course, that would be People of Color, poor folks, and young adults.
We’ve had early voting here in my state, for about three weeks. Locally, it’s always a bit of an argument about which early voting sites will open. Accessibility is everything if you’re going to vote. Will the locations be close to large populations, especially those populations who have barriers to voting? Will they open at 7 am or at 9 am? Will they close at 5 pm or 7 pm? Try finding time to vote when you’re a low-income wage earner. Or finding a ride to the polling place.
I’ve heard stories of early voting not going right. One minister in our local conference spoke of voting machines that changed his vote. There was no Spanish-language ballot available. Long lines, rude poll workers, and even illegal voter intimidation just outside the doors of the voting center.
And please don’t get me started on gerrymandering. That’s where politicians manipulate the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one party or class.” North Carolina, where I live, is one of the most gerrymandered states in the U.S. When you look at the districts on maps, you can see how neighborhood boundaries are drawn to include one house on the street in one district, and the house next door in another.
If I’m totally honest, I have little faith in the voting system here in the United States.
Even in the best of all possible outcomes tomorrow, we will still have the same President. We will likely still have the same Senate. Only the House of Representatives seems to be up for grabs, and the friction may be just enough to slow the Trump train, but not to stop it.
Even in our local races, because of massive gerrymandering in our system, it’s unlikely that there will be much change. We have some great African American candidates, but they likely won’t win against the White incumbents. We have some excellent women candidates, but they likely won’t stand a chance against the men they’re challenging. Our election may just create more of the same.
And I’ll tell you. I’m sick of the “more of the same.”
I’m sick of calling my Senators, Representatives, and dialing the White House number knowing that no one will listen.
I’m tired of marching down streets protesting gun violence, immigrant families torn apart, policies which destroy the earth and climate, the threats on LGBTQIA lives and families,the assault on women’s rights, and the dozens of other things I’ve protested.
I’m tired of standing in the pulpit, Sunday after Sunday, lamenting this crisis or that crisis, praying for renewal, for justice, for just a little peace.
I’m tired of having to comfort my friends who have been attacked this week—my trans siblings who fear losing correctly-gendered-passports, my Jewish friends for another attack on a synagogue, my Black friends for another Black man killed by police, my women friends after another #MeToo moment.
Tired. But not hopeless.
Calling may not change anything. Protesting may not change anything. Voting may not change anything. Preaching may not change anything.
But there is something afoot when I comfort someone. There is something starting when my trans siblings hold the hands of my Jewish friends. There is something being created when my White women friends sit with my Black women friends and find solidarity. There is something commencing when my White church members show up for Latinx families separated at the border.
There is something powerful brewing here.
When you attack every marginalized group at the same time, they come together in solidarity.
I will vote tomorrow.
It may not change anything.
I will also make a friend tomorrow.
It may change everything.
Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).
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