This is your semi-regular reminder that:
Most Americans, and certainly most Pagans, only vote in national elections, the elections that we have every four years to elect a president. But elections happen, at a minimum, every two years, and in some places, local elections happen in the years in between those. We are one state legislature away from Republicans being able to pass Constitutional amendments that would, for example, revoke same-sex marriages, criminalize abortion and birth control, take away women’s rights to vote. You’d better get involved in your local electoral process now. And by now, I mean, yesterday. (N0, really; I mean immediately! Many states and localities will, within just a few months, have special elections to replace people elected to a different office (a state delegate who got elected to Congress, for example). Very, very few people will pay any attention to or vote in those elections so your involvement now can pay large dividends. Now.)
There’s a venerable and ancient Pagan adage that instructs us to, “Think globally and do magic locally.” Similarly, as we venerable and ancient Second Wave Feminists used to say, “The personal is the political.” Or, just in case you’d like one more ancient and venerable saying: “As above, so below.” What happens at the local level impacts the nation and the planet.
Yes, presidential elections matter; but your ability to influence a presidential election is minuscule compared to the influence you can wield over state and local elections. Many of those are won or lost by only a few hundred (sometimes, even fewer) votes. Turnout matters. Donations matter. Getting your friends and neighbors to the polls matters. Putting a sign in your yard or a bumper sticker on your car matters. Doing magic matters.
If Leftists voted in state and local elections, we’d have a Senate and Congress to put brakes on many of Trump’s/Pence’s most dangerous goals. We’d be able to stop their judicial appointments — judges who will be in place long after Trump/Pence are gone. We’d be able to put sensible gun control in place, even over their veto. We could pass budgets without the country being threatened with regular government shutdowns. Our cities and towns could function as sanctuary cities and could outlaw fracking, plastic bags, discrimination against people based upon their gender or sexual orientation. We could undo so much of the damage that’s been done over the last thirty-five years.
It’s almost impossible NOT to pay attention to presidential elections. The media hypes them endlessly to sell eyeballs to advertisers. Paying attention to state and local races takes a bit more effort, but only a bit more. What can you do?
- Google and start to follow one or two blogs that focus on your state and/or local politics. I live in Virginia and I follow Blue Virginia and Know VA. In almost every state, the local Democratic Committee has a blog or electronic newsletter.
- Follow your county council members, state legislators, Congressperson, and Senators on Twitter. Like them on Facebook.
- Show up at a county council meeting, the caucus to pick the nominee, a campaign event. Introduce yourself; hand out your business card. You’ll hear back.
- What’s the one thing you’re able/willing to do? Most campaigns now make it ridiculously easy to phone bank from home. They give you numbers, a script, a web page to record results. Can you make 10 calls one evening? If you have a vending table at the local farmers’ or flee market, would you be willing to put some campaign literature on one corner of the table? Can you work out a child-care swap on your neighborhood ListServ: “I’ll watch your kids at the park while you vote and then you do the same for me”? Would you be willing to drop by the local campaign/party office to pick up a yard sign to put it in your yard? If you have mad word processing skilz, could you volunteer to help out once a month with the Democratic, Green, or Working Families party newsletter?
- Christopher Penzack once said, about a different topic, “We’re Witches. We should do something about that.” Have you ever worked any political magic?
- Find out when your next local election is and commit now to vote in it. Make a plan: will you vote on the way to work or at lunch? Local elections may be held at a different location than where you vote for president; do you know where to go? How will you get there? Can you vote early, by mail, absentee?
Finally, if you were unhappy with something about the Democratic Primary in your state — it’s open to anyone so Republicans can skew the vote or it’s closed so Independents can’t vote; it’s a caucus which favors well-to-do white men; the rules seem to favor long-time Democratic politicians; whatever — right now is the time to educate yourself about the process for changing that policy and to get to work. If all you do is show up every four years and scream, “Rigged!” it’s difficult for me to take your concerns too seriously. Yes, a lot of the work is kind of tedious, slow, requires consensus building, and isn’t nearly as exciting as attending a rally and then Tweeting your rage — but that’s the reality. If you’re not willing to do that work, someone else will and they may have different priorities than you do.
Picture found here.