Tag: voting

My Pledge to Democracy

At the end of every year, I produce a list of the films my husband and I watched in the previous 12 months. I provide a brief commentary for our Top 10 (or in the case of 2021’s list, our Top 15). 

Instead of overwhelming you with a list of dozens (hundreds?) of films at the end of the year, I thought for 2022, I would build a list throughout the year so you don’t have to wait. This would also give me the space to more thoughtfully review some of the films I think deserve attention — or at least those that captured mine.

As I mentioned in my Films Watched in 2021 post, it’s been a tradition for over a decade for David and I to watch a long-form film or film series over the course of the New Year’s Day holiday, and this year — 2022 — was no exception. We decided to watch The Battle of Chile, a documentary film made in 1973 in three 90-minute parts. 

I knew that the United States had backed a coup in Chile in the 1970s and that a dictatorial regime was installed in place of the democratically elected government and president. And that’s about where my knowledge ended.

Watching this film just days before the 1st anniversary of the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol was both fitting and harrowing. Before January 6, 2021, I was quite aware that our democracy was under attack, and over the years I have written several essays and podcast episodes on the importance of being engaged in political processes and in our precious democracy. (Elections Matter: How to Increase Voting, Inauguration, A Guide to Being Politically EngagedCan Garbage Unite our Divided Country?, Why I Love Voting and Why You Should, Too!, Laws for Animals: How to Engage in Politics without Being Cynical, to name a few.) I even made political engagement the theme of one of my vegan / animal protection conferences.

But on January 6, 2021, I saw — we all saw — how fragile democracy is and how it’s only as strong as its weakest individual, as Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently articulated in her pledge to democracy.

I watched in horror as men and women — provoked by this country’s own president — attacked one of the most fundamental tenets of democracy — the peaceful transfer of power — and persist in lies about election fraud where none had been and none has since been found.

I waited in vain for leaders to abandon such falsehoods once they witnessed police officers, elected officials, and fellow Americans suffer attacks, violence, threats, and even death. 

No such change came, and indeed, the lies have become even more fixed and firm. And our democracy remains in peril.

To be sure, there are differences between the Chilean far right overthrowing their democratically elected government and the divisive state of our country today. First of all, they had a major foreign power backing them (the United States) and a military that acted on its own — independent of the constitutional government.

But there are chilling similarities that every American will recognize in this story and that every American needs to see. We must never forget January 6th, 2021, the five people who were killed, and the dozens who were injured and harmed, and we must resist the temptation to naïvely and complacently believe that such an egregious act could never happen again.

Moreover, as ordinary citizens, we must be vigilant against any duplicitous measures that seek to deny facts, distort truth, and chip away at democratic norms, systems, and laws. 

How?

  • By engaging in the very democracy that has been so hard-won and hard-kept. 
  • By exercising the very rights that so many have fought and died for. 
  • By remembering the demos in democracy: the people
  • And by rejecting cynicism and divisiveness. 

This isn’t someone else’s task. It’s ours. It’s mine. It’s yours.

Vote.

Get involved.

Know your representatives — not just federally but regionally and locally.

Visit your local town or city hall. Or your state or federal Capitol. (That’s David and I on a recent visit to our state Capitol in Sacramento!) 

Financially contribute to candidates you believe in.

Volunteer.

Use your voice.

Know history.

Get up, show up, and speak up.

Meet duplicity with honesty, stupidity with wisdom, ignorance with truth, and cruelty with kindness.

And watch The Battle of Chile

The amount of footage and the breadth and depth of the storytelling are enough to justify the high esteem with which it is still regarded 50 years later. 

Pig Laws and Black Codes: Why Voting Matters

If you’ve ever doubted the power of voting, all you need to do is take a look at the history of and struggle for suffrage — the right to vote — in this country, because the power of voting can be measured by the efforts to suppress, limit, and restrict it.

Voting rights have been hard-won for most segments of the population, especially the millions of black men and women who endured the horrors of slavery, Pig Laws, Black Codes, Jim Crow laws, and 100 more years before securing their basic Constitutional rights. 

So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today — a little history, a few animalogies (animal-related words and expressions), and lots of resources if you want to get involved in exercising this most basic, most powerful right and making sure others can do the same.

A Simple Reminder Makes a Huge Difference

There are SO many ways we can get involved to make sure the issues we care about — human rights, animal protection, and environmental protection — are represented in our local, state, and federal governments.⁠⠀
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One of them is by voting. ⁠⠀
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Yes, we need election reform to make sure everyone who is eligible CAN vote. Period. Full stop. ⁠⠀
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But we also need to vote … and make sure everyone who is eligible WILL vote. Because when people vote, the majority of them vote for the things we all care about — human rights, animal protection, and environmental protection.⁠⠀
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? Watch this short video about an organization I volunteer with to see if you want to get involved as well. It’s so simple, and it just takes a little time, a few words, and a stamp.
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DON’T DO NOTHING BECAUSE YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING. DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. ⁠⠀

Elections Matter: How to Help Increase Voting

Spread the Vote is an organization dedicated to helping people get IDs ahead of Election Day. IDs are necessary to participate in lots of areas of society, such as getting employment, opening a bank account, or finding housing. Additionally, voter ID laws in particular disproportionately affect communities of color, the elderly, and new voters. Spread the Vote helps people to navigate their state’s ID laws and assists with everything from application fees to driving you to the DMV to get your ID. You can join a local chapter (or start one!), and donate at their website.

VoteRiders.org In addition to people who lack acceptable ID to vote, confusion and intimidation serve to prevent millions more eligible voters from voting, even if they have a valid ID in their state. Their Voter ID Helpline (844-33-VTRID) receives as many calls from people in non-voter ID states as from those in states that require or request ID at the polls! Even poll workers are confused and sometimes ask voters for ID when none is required. In addition to providing information about voter ID requirements for every voter in every state, they also partner with local organizations to find, inform and help voters with voter ID, especially those most at risk of losing their right to vote. Get involved today.

When We All Vote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American. 

VoteForward.org, an organization I actively volunteer with, empowers grassroots volunteers to help register voters from under-represented demographics and encourage them to vote. It’s so simple and proven to be effective. With just a printer and some stamps, you send a letter to registered voters encouraging them to vote — it’s one of the easiest things you can do that meaningfully increases the odds that the recipient will vote. Obviously there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the election process during Covid-19, including how people will vote this year, but one thing is certain: it’s critical that they do so. Whatever method Americans use to safely vote this year, receiving a hand-written Vote Forward letter will make them more likely to cast a ballot. Adopt your registered voters today, and start preparing letters to send

MORE RESOURCES AND ORGANIZATIONS

Reclaim the American Dream is an informational gateway aimed at helping people who are upset about America today to get engaged in fixing our democracy and making our economy fairer at the local level, where people power still has clout. 

East Bay Animal PAC — If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out our work to elect animal-friendly candidates. You can contribute from wherever you are, and as a member, you are eligible to vote in our endorsement elections. And check out other animal-related organizations to help animals during elections in particular and the political arena in general:

Voters for Animal Rights (NY), Colorado Voters for Animals (CO), Maryland Votes for Animals, Connecticut Votes for Animals (CT), Animal Protection Voters, Animal Wellness Action

An interesting article for your day: Animals Vote, Too!

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