Passionate Politics

Borrowing from the bell hooks book of the same name, I purposely titled this blog in such a way as to send a reminder of the importance of being politically passionate.

This week will be a big one for the planet as the next leader of the free world will be chosen. I, however, will not be voting in this election for the simple reason I can’t – I’m Canadian. BUT, I literally live a stones throw away from the U.S. – as in directly across the river.  Now before you accuse me of giving my two cents about a political campaign that has nothing to do with me, I will vehemently argue that it does – not only due to my physical proximity to the states but also because I inhabit our shared burning sphere of a home (although at times Mars has looked mighty tempting) – and the ripple effect is a very real thing my friends.

I guess what has my hackles up most about the U.S. election is my worry that people won’t take their vote seriously. Having studied the intimate details of the suffragette movement in Britain, I am slightly ashamed to admit how much I did not know about the great lengths women went to so they could cast their vote. Even most recent history, like the Brexit outcome for example, shows how uninformed voters failed to appreciate the tremendous impact their vote had until it was too late.

Below is an excerpt, written verbatim, from Eleanor Roosevelt’s book, You Learn by Living (1960, p. 171-172). In it she outlines eleven key lessons for living a fulfilling and valued life – number ten being that “Everyone can take part in politics”. When I read the first few paragraphs of the chapter I thought it perfectly summed up the reason why those in the U.S. should not waste their vote on November 8th; that the importance lies more with being an INFORMED voter then who you necessarily choose to lead the country.

As the former first lady explains (keep in mind that this was written in the 1960’s so the language is very male-dominated):

“Politics is the participation of the citizen in his government. The kind of government he has depends entirely on the quality of that participation. Therefore, every single one of us must learn, as early as possible, to understand and accept our duties as a citizen.

What, then, are these duties which, as citizens, we owe our community and our government? Theodore Roosevelt frequently declared that a man’s first duty is to support himself and his family. His next is to serve his country, not only in time of war but whenever and wherever he is needed.

The minimum, the very basic minimum, of a citizen’s duty is to cast a vote on election day. Even now, too few of us discharge this minimal duty. By such negligence, such indifference, such sheer laziness, we discard, unused, a gift and privilege obtained for us at gigantic cost and sacrifice.

But if our chief obligation is to cast a vote, this carries with it a further duty – to vote intelligently. And here we hit a snag. How are you to acquire the ability to vote intelligently?

To vote intelligently you must have an understanding of issues and the different points of view as to how they can best be handled. You must have some way of appraising and evaluating the men who appeal for your suffrage to enable them to handle the issues. You must understand how things get done through political action. You must know, in general, if not in particular, what kind of country you want to live in and how these issues will affect the main picture.”

When all is said and done my ultimate hope is that right prevails as the winner – no matter who gets sworn into office. Remember, voting is your privileged opportunity to voice your opinion on the world’s stage.

Please don’t be silent – too many people fought for you to be heard.

Erica 🙂


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