Good morning, my wonderful friends!! It’s officially November and you know what that means — the midterm elections are TOMORROW, if you haven’t already voted early!! But…I know that you’re all incredibly responsible, so you probably went already, right?? Anyway, I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but our future depends on our vote. Heading to the voting booth is not only our right, but our responsibility, so for today’s motivational quotes, I’d love to chat about this most important of jobs!! As you head out to vote soon, here are five quotes on using the power of your own voice for good…
Listen, do you hear that? Listen closely. It’s the voices of the Founding Fathers and the Suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony. They’re all chanting, practically SHOUTING, from beyond the grave: Vote, vote, vote! Vote in the midterm election!
Maybe you think that opening paragraph was just a tad bit dramatic, but it’s not. The truth is, things are dire right now. All over the world and all over the United States — from coast to coast, town to town, house to house, life to life. We’re in trouble, and one look at the CV of the current administration over the last two years paints an alarming picture — and even worse, signals a dangerous and perilous future. The “president” said the safety of Americans is top priority. Yet, he and his administration want to…
*Define transgender out of existence
*Strip people of health insurance
*Mock people with disabilities
*Refuse stricter gun control laws
*Criticize the press
*Ridicule sexual assault survivors
And that’s only the beginning — the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Two black people are dead after they were just trying to go grocery shopping. And 11 Jewish people were killed while peacefully worshipping in their beloved synagogue. Two horrific attacks in less than one week. Two horrific acts of violence fueled by hate and committed by white males, NOT by foreign terrorists. It’s no coincidence that this violence mirrors the hate speech used by the “president.” It’s the same rhetoric used at his rallies, at press conferences and on Twitter. Make no mistake: He’s emboldened people. He’s normalized this behavior. I wrote this in my very first CNN op-ed last year and it’s even more true today: “The leader of our country has shown…no interest in restraining his supporters from attacking everyone.”
Grocery stores and churches are supposed to be safe places. You’re supposed to feel at home, not fear for your life.
That’s why I took my rage and disgust to the voting booth last weekend. I voted early because there’s this palpable sense of urgency to change things. We all have to do our part to bring about the change we want to see in our world. We can’t sit home and complain. We can’t keep getting into arguments on social media. We need to take that rage and desperation and channel it in a productive way.
One of the most productive ways to raise our voice is to vote. There is so much at stake in the midterm election, like 435 House seats and 33 Senate seats as well as which party controls the two chambers of Congress and has oversight power of the president and his administration. There are also 6,665 state positions (36 states will elect governors) and, of course, scores of local ones.
Needless to say, there is much work to be done! Yet it’s scary to see statistics like only one third of Millennials are sure that they’ll head to the polls; the survey also found that young voters don’t feel represented by Congress. The good news? Sites like Vote Forward let you send letters to unlikely voters in the midterm election and early voting is already underway across the nation! You can find your voting location in seconds too!
As Tom Krattenmaker said in yesterday’s op-ed in USA Today…
“The one to heed is the voice telling you that the future direction of your society and your prospects of a dignified life are at stake. The one telling you that in this election more than most, voting is caring — caring about LGBT Americans, people of color, immigrants from “s—hole” countries, sexual assault survivors and others — all targets of the Trumpians and all under threat of losing their rights and their rightful place in society. It’s the voice telling you that voting is an act of noncompliance — noncompliance with political forces that do not have your interests in mind and want you to lie down and be quiet.”
America, what have we become? Where do we want to go? And are you going to join the fight to get us there? Imagine a world where people rush to the voting booth with the same urgency as they have when buying a Mega Millions lottery ticket. What a bright future that would be. A bright future, indeed…
[Bottom photos via Unsplash]
I’ve been a huge fan of Taylor Swift since her Fearless days. And while I do consider myself a dedicated “Swiftie,” there’s one thing I’ve never been a fan of: Her virtual silence when it came to politics.
Swift ended her silent streak over the weekend to come out and voice her support for Democratic candidates in her home state of Tennessee. Taking to Instagram, she penned a post on racism, sexism and LGBTQ rights.
“I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country,” she wrote. “I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”
While I applaud Taylor Swift for encouraging everyone to make their voice heard by registering to vote and heading to the polls in November, the world has been in a tailspin long before now. Where was Swift during the 2016 election? Where was her voice during the Muslim travel ban or the transgender ban in the military? Where was her support for families separated at the border?
Swift has a history of using her star power and platform for good. She’s lent her support — and money — to such causes as childhood cancer and arts education. So to see her remain silent for years when it came to anything political is disappointing. For a celebrity who has essentially built a career out of being honest and, literally, fearless, she’s amassed a powerful empire. Whether you like her music or not, she’s considered the voice of a generation, and at a time when many of her fans are just approaching voting age, we can’t discount her influence on them.
The music industry has a long and storied history with political activism. Musicians have always found a way to influence both culture and politics, from Farm Aid to the Dixie Chicks to Kanye West’s most recent rant on SNL. Maybe Swift was worried about her more conservative fans, but surely, she could see the greater good in speaking up and bringing important issues to the forefront. She may be a skilled businesswoman, but she’s first and foremost an American with a civic duty; the latter should take precedence.
Some say that you shouldn’t openly discuss politics — that it’s something so personal that we should keep it to ourselves. But lives hang in the balance under the current administration, so now is not the time to be silent. Because this is about so much more than politics and about so much more than red vs. blue, Democrats vs. Republicans. It’s about humanity and the future. In 2018, the personal is political and the political is personal; there’s no way of separating the two. Too much is at stake.
We’re all sitting around waiting for someone else to speak up, waiting for someone else to fight, someone else to lead the revolution. Taylor Swift has the means and influence to be leading that revolution. It’s a shame she isn’t. She would do well to take her cue from other celebrities who have spoken out, including the likes of Alyssa Milano and Katy Perry.
Swift’s Instagram post has already made a difference, causing a surge in voter registration, especially among the 18-to-29 age group. Imagine the positive influence she could have had if she spoke out before the 2016 election. To be sure, I’m not knocking Swift’s efforts, which are obviously working, but I’ve seen people on social media proclaim that she’s going to save us all with this one act. She’s not. Because there have been people fighting and advocating for years. So while Taylor Swift does deserve credit, let’s not forget that her voice and power is coming pretty late to the game.
We all* owe it to those strong and powerful Suffragettes to uphold their legacy, but also remember that the work is not done. It’s 2018 and women are still fighting for equality and fighting to be heard. We must never stop fighting. From the boardroom to the kitchen table and everywhere in between.
I love what Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, said about the power of fighting for women’s equality…
“We can’t wait for equality to happen. We have to make it happen. It is each of our responsibility to drive change. Educate yourself on political issues. Get to the voting booths. Run for office if you feel called to do so. On Women’s Equality Day and every day, let’s rewrite the rules that are no longer working and create new ones, together.”
Also, lest you think Women’s Equality Day means that women have achieved all the equality and no longer have to fend off wildly inaccurate mansplaining, I’d like to leave you with this gem: I once had a guy try to tell me that women and men have equal rights. And by “once,” I mean last year.
So where are we going, friends? And how do we get there? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this important topic! xoxo
*Yes, men, I’m looking at you too…
[Photo via Bettmann Archive]
Today is World Refugee Day and, sadly, I don’t think the cruel irony of that is lost on anyone. With the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to immigration, family separation at the border has drastically taken center stage in an extremely dangerous and downright unacceptable reality in this country. It should be our worst nightmare, but it’s not. It’s playing out right before our very eyes — every day — so the question then becomes: What can we do to stop it? What can we do to help these innocent children and their parents?
First, it’s important to make it abundantly clear: Separating families at the border has NOTHING to do with the law and EVERYTHING to do with an abusive violation of human rights.
That is, there is no law that mandates separating families at the border, and that alone should be enough to make us collectively scream out in rage. If not, consider this: Since April, when the zero-tolerance policy took effect, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border. And, asylum-seeking families — families who are fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries — are also being separated, even though they are seeking refuge legally and complying with immigration laws for entering the country.
“The idea that children can be protected by tearing them away from their families defies all sense of logic and humanity,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “These are children who have already suffered the trauma of violence and persecution in their native countries and the arduous journey to seek safety. Why in the world would the U.S. government institute a policy that would compound their distress by separating them from their families, claiming it’s for their own good? This is a monstrous policy that flies in the face of human rights, and should be rescinded immediately.”
You can read more about the atrocious history of the family separation policy, but the time to act is now and each of us can do something to make a difference. Here are 3 ways you can help stop family separation today…
Contact your representatives: Midterm elections aren’t until November, but make your voice heard now. Tell Congress that they need to take action this second to end family separation and reunite children with their parents. It’s easy to find out who represents you in Congress by state or zip code. If you’re struggling with what to say, the ACLU provides a script to use when calling.
Donate: Organizations are working hard to help families, so no amount of money donated is too small. Even just $5 or $10 will go a long way. The ACLU is a good place to start, as is Amnesty International, which works to protect human rights around the world and supports the Keep Families Together Act that would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from separating families. There are also organizations that are offering legal services to those in immigration custody, including Al Otro Lado, The Florence Project, the American Immigration Council, Kids in Need of Defense and RAICES, which is the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas that helps underserved immigrants
Protest: One of our most sacred rights is the right to assemble, and protests are happening all around the country. A number of organizations have planned a nationwide protest on June 30th, and the coalition Families Belong Together lets you search for protests near you.
Separating families is nothing short of cruel and inhumane, and I hope we all take the time to do our part to help stop this dangerous policy. We have a chance to be on the right side of history. Let’s do it together, shall we?? xoxo