The Art of Voting

Donald Trump.

Does it make you roll your eyes, sigh or exhale slowly to read that name? Does your mind immediately fly to the realities of racism and anger among the American working and middle class?

Are you afraid? Just a little bit afraid that he’ll be the Republican nominee and one election away from the Presidency?

Do you understand fascism?  I’ll admit – the Pennsylvania education system did a piss-poor job of making sure I understood even the most basic political and economic factors involved in twentieth century history. History classes literally stopped at ‘the assassination of Franz Ferdinand’ which gave me a closer affiliation with Scottish indie rock bands than a grasp on modern history.

But setting that aside, let me ask you another question – do you know fascists come to power? How religion and economics take over the arts? How fear suppresses, oppresses and represses?

We actually need look no further than Pennsylvania – we’ve elected an entire General Assembly filled with rightwing extremists who believe Government should do nothing. And so they do. Nothing. No budget. You can be sure that’s impacting your life or the lives of people you love. If not now, soon.

It is classic bullying and we all know that bullies thrive in an environment where others tolerate their behavior, either implicitly or explicitly. Donald Trump has convinced millions of people that he’s both a regular joe who understands their everyday experiences AND that he’s a brilliant businessman who can throw our money around to solve problems.

Understanding what happens before the rise to power is important. It wasn’t just Franz Ferdinand.

This big build up leads to a simple request – I want you to vote in the primary election on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Voting is your key to push back against bullies. It shows that you are paying attention and you are willing to take action. Voting sends a message, both literal in terms of who gets the votes, and figurative in terms of the number of people who turn out to vote. It may be one drop in a bucket, but if Trump’s rise to power doesn’t convince you that one drop matters …

Voting protects the arts. Voting keeps social service programs in place. Voting fixes potholes, give people flu shots and keeps the schools open. There is an entire industry of people who pay attention to voters and they are not elected officials – they are making a living calculating whether you will vote or not, and they are often right.

So here’s what you do

  1. Make sure you are registered to vote. You can do it online or by requesting a paper form. DEADLINE is March 28, 2016
  2. Figure out your polling place.
  3. Get an absentee ballot if necessary – make sure you read up on the rules. DEADLINE to request an absentee ballot is April 19, 2016.
  4. If you need assistance voting, you have the right to it. Familiarize yourself with the rules. One year, my hands were tremoring badly making it difficult to use the voting machine. I was permitted to have Laura stand with me and press the buttons.
  5. Make a point to vote on April 26 between 7 AM and 8 PM.

Let’s go one further – make a point to recruit someone to vote. Not vote your way, but vote.

I have 117 reasons for you to vote right here  – stories from your neighbors about their everyday experiences living as second-class citizens. If you are an ally to LGBTQ people, voting is imperative.

If you have kids or know kids or know people that have kids, voting is imperative. You can’t control the world, but you can control the example you set and the efforts you make to create a better world.

If you are an artist, you must vote. For funding of art education, art institutions and art programming. You must infuse art into voting. Maybe you can still create without these things, but what about the kids who know the school library and the local art program as their only refuge? What about our sisters and brother incarcerated who could lose access to creating? What about the artists hustling 2 or 3 jobs to pay the rent so they can create – what if they lose out?

Voting is creating. And that’s what runs the world.

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