Getting Out the Vote While Staying Safe At Home

I didn’t used to be a particularly political person. I was raised in a moderate family; my parents never voted a party line. Growing up and into early adulthood, I didn’t find politics particularly consuming, though I have been an avid, informed voter since I turned eighteen. Until relatively recently, I was able to understand both sides of political points of view. The irony is, now that I am eager to become more involved, to do more to return our country to some kind of sensible, civil normalcy,  my own health issues and the pandemic limit what I can do.

But the Sierra Club gave me an option that allowed me to help get out the vote from home, when I had the energy to do so, even in the middle of the night: writing letters to voters who tend to vote on Election Day, rather than during early voting.

I had hoped to write an even hundred, but we were told to print rather than to use cursive because so many people can no longer read running script. I hadn’t done any extended printing for maybe twenty years, when my second child was learning to write. I had to think about each letter as I wrote it and I could feel different muscles in my hand, ones that had become accustomed to a life of ease and indolence, coming into play. I was surprised how much printing slowed me down. I managed to write only seventy-five of these letters (they came in sets of twenty-five), so I was a little disappointed with my output, but am still very grateful have found a way to have, I hope, persuaded some more people to vote.

If you’re eligible to vote here in the United States and haven’t done so yet, please please PLEASE find your ballot if one was mailed to you and send it in or get out and vote in person. Lives hang in the balance.
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Note to fountain pen users: After I wrote my first set of
letters, I realized that I wanted more fountain-pen-friendly paper on which to print out these letters. I found recommendations for sugarcane paper on BestFountainPen.com, reddit.com, and MountainOfInk.com (see the comments section for MoI). I got a ream and it was a vast improvement. Not only did my inks show their sheen and shading nicely on this paper (not to Tomoe River levels, but still noticeable), but also, when I used the paper in the copier, the print was both sharper and darker. I’m pretty happy about it. The brand I got was Treefree from Staples.

(For what it’s worth, this post contains no affiliate links, no one asked me to post my opinions, and the opinions here are my own.)

Practicing What I Preach (This Time Anyway)

“That’s just the trouble with me, I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

“If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Like Portia, Alice, and (I bet) a whole lot of us, I don’t always listen to the advice I give myself or “follow mine own teaching,” BUT BUT BUT — here’s an instance in which I did:

I’m fortunate enough to live in Colorado, where voting is pretty easy. All voters who register on time get a ballot in the mail. We can register on line. We can register by mail. We can register in person — even on Election Day.

We can mail in our ballot. We can put it in a secure drop box. We can vote in person, early or on Election Day. If we make a mistake, we can go get a new ballot. We can even do it more than once if we, say, fill out our ballots when we’re so tired we don’t track the bubbles properly and need to go twice to trade in our ballots and then finally decide to vote in person so that if we make ANOTHER
mistake we can get a new ballot on the spot. Not that I know anybody who’s done that. (We do have to trade in the original ballot to get a new one. No voting twice.)

I wish all eligible voters had the options we have here in the Centennial State. To everyone who has waited or will wait in lines for hours or even for the whole damn day, who has to face down intimidating “watchers,” who has to travel for hours to get to a drop box, who has to contend with any of the myriad obstacles that are placed in your way because of your race, your politics, your address — YOU ARE HEROES. And all I can say is “Thank you.”

“I hate ingratitude more in a man
than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness,
or any taint of vice whose strong corruption
inhabits our frail blood”.”
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Inktober 2020: Day Twelve — Slippery

I know, I know — “slippery slope” is pretty cliché. But it seemed to work here. The strained and inverted syntax is supposed to reflect the opposing forces of gravity and the climber’s desire to get to the top of the dune. I’m not sure  it works; I confess my choices were dictated by what I could draw. What I had verbally sketched out was

…And gnashing teeth —
Lodged in a lethal throw
Against hope.

Disgusting,
The slippery slope she barefoot treads
Up the oil-slicked dune…

But I didn’t know how to draw “disgusting” on its own.

Because I Like to Bang My Head Against Brick Walls: Another Open Letter to Colorado Senator Cory Gardner

Another Open Letter to Colorado Senator Cory Gardner

Senator Cory Gardner
1961 Stout Street, Suite #12-300
Denver, Colorado
80294

5 October, 2020

Senator Gardner, 

I see that you voted for the bill calling for the Justice Department to to withdraw its support for the lawsuit that would end the Affordable Healthcare Act. I also see that you have introduced your own bill that putatively would protect those of us with pre-existing conditions. I thank you for your vote and hope that it portends a turn toward listening to and caring about the needs and opinions of your constituents.

However, your record of voting against the ACA makes this vote suspect. After the election, if you are returned to the Senate or during the liminal period between the election and the Senate’s new term, will you continue to support the ACA? Your own brief bill, which at first glance seems so promising, does not guarantee that insurers must accept applicants with pre-existing conditions, nor does it it spell out what kinds of coverage a plan must provide, nor does it contain a provision forbidding discrimination based on gender or sex. There are too many loopholes to bolster the impression you seem to want to cultivate that you are ready to stand up for health care and affordable insurance for all of us.

The most effective way to convince us that you do, in fact, care about the lives and health of your constituents, and of all inhabitants of the United States (we’re all too connected, as COVID-19 has taught us, to pretend that we need only be concerned with the health of our neighbours) is to oppose seating a new Supreme Court justice before the Inauguration. The push to put Amy Coney Barrett on the highest bench in the land before the tenth of November is motivated by the intention to destroy the act that has brought affordable insurance to millions of Americans. Commit to voting only for a nominee who will support not just the ACA, but who will also protect women’s health by preserving our reproductive choices, including our right to control our bodies, our lives, and our destinies through access to safe, affordable, and legal abortions. 

If you vote for the Justice Department to step away from the legal challenge that is trying to eradicate the Affordable Healthcare Act, but also vote to confirm a new Supreme Court justice to sit in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, a justice who will strike down the ACA and overturn Roe v. Wade, then you are merely attempting to have your cake and eat it, too. 

Senator Gardner, I remain

Your voting constituent,

Ruth E. Feiertag

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #30 (The Power of One)

Last, and possibly the most important reason to cast your ballot: every vote counts.  EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

In the 2017 / 2018 elections, there were two state races, one in Virginia and one in Alaska, that ended in a tie. The Virginia race was settled by drawing one of the candidates’ names from a bowl; a recount in the Alaska race found that one candidates had a single vote more than the other. In both cases, the Republican won. In both cases, legislative control was at stake.

ONE more vote in the Virginia election would have created a balance of power; ONE more vote in Alaska would have led to a coin flip.

EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

YOUR vote counts. But only if you cast your ballot. Remember that if you’re thinking of not voting. The fate of our country may be in your hands.

VOTE.

 

  1. Gregory S. Schneider. “A single vote leads to a rare tie for control of the Virginia legislature,Washington Post. December 19, 2017
  2. Eric Levenson. “Coin flips, poker hands and other crazy ways America settles tied elections,” CNN. January 4, 2018.
  3. Adelyn Baxter and Jermy Hsieh. “Pivotal House race recount now favors Republican LeBon by one vote,” KTOO. November 30, 2018.
  4. Steve Benen. “With legislative control on the line, Alaska faces rare election tie,” MSNBC. November 27, 2018.
  5. Trip Gabriel. “Virginia’s Tiebreaker Drawing is Back On. But It May Not Settle House Race,” New York imes. January 3, 2018.

 

 

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #29

 

 

Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years….

Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund…. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

From Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire. “Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance,” New York Times. September 27, 2020.

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #28

  1. Covid in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count,” The New York Times. September 28, 2020.
  2. Sheryl Gay Stolberg. “Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Strike Down Affordable Care Act.” 24 September, 2020.

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #27

 

This is Erev Yom Kippur. Ten days ago, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, we learned of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Before the evening was old, Mitch McConnell and the president declared their determination to rush to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat with a far-right judge, an intention they are working hard to fulfill.

So much, for now, for the re-cap. Just put that to the side for a moment; it’ll come back around again.

Every so often during the year — whenever there’s a Jewish holiday — I ask myself why I, as someone on the Agnostic-Atheist Spectrum, keep celebrating these holidays, but I know the answers. A lot of it has to do with being brought up that way, with maintaining an identity and a connection to my family, those living and those dead. (My idea of Pascal’s Wager is reminding myself that, if there is an afterlife, I don’t want to spend mine explaining to my Yiddishe grandparents why I stopped being Jewish. And then my Aunt Lillie would show up —— let’s not even go there.)

But aside from the fear-of-perpetual-guilt, there’s also an emphasis in Judaism on getting this life right, on cultivating right relations between people.¹ And that’s particularly true around the High Holy Days, when one is supposed to try to fix relations between one’s self and others one has hurt or done wrong before one can ask God for forgiveness. The making things right makes sense to me. Ideally, I’d just go around apologizing all year ’round, but I don’t, so I appreciate the yearly reminder. I actually take this ritual pretty seriously. I think I’m mostly a pretty innocuous person, but I have my moments, particularly when I’m angry or scared or just plain stupid, when I can lash out or not realize I’m saying the most keenly hurtful thing possible — either way, it’s important to me to make amends.

It was hard to start apologizing, to say “I was wrong,” but what really set me back was how hard it was for people to hear and accept my apologies. Almost everyone tried to turn the situation into a joke; some even got sharply angry with me, they were so uncomfortable. People reacted as if I were trying to wrong-foot them or as if I were exposing a soft spot for them to poke.

And this is where I want to start circling back to to the beginning of this post. We, as a society, have come to regard an apology — a sincere apology that signals a change of heart, a change of mind, as a fault, a flaw, a fatal error. And we avoid exposing ourselves to such judgement, to the power over us that an apology might give someone.

We see this attitude so clearly in politics. No politician wants to admit to being wrong lest the other political sharks start circling, letting blood, tearing out chunks of flesh. Constituents, too, may feel betrayed and lash out in anger.

We need to make it possible for people to apologize, to make amends, to change their minds. The decision to hurry Justice Ginsburg’s replacement onto the Court would be the perfect place to start. A majority of Americans²  — up to 62% — want to wait until after Inauguration Day to seat a new judge. If you’re one of those Americans, write and call and e-mail your senators. If they’ve come out for replacing Justice Ginsburg before the election or during a lame-duck period (if there is one), tell them you’ll regard them more highly for listening to their constituents and for changing their minds. 

Will it work? I don’t know. But please give it a try. And no matter what, sometime by the third of November — VOTE.
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  1. And here, everyone who’s Jewish and is reading this, who was probably nodding along during the guilt bit, is sitting up to argue and explain at length why I’m wrong. It’s what we do. You know what they say: where there are two Jews, there are three opinions.
  2. “A new poll showed that the American public agrees with him and opposes Mr. Trump’s plan to rush a new justice onto the court. Of those surveyed by Reuters and Ipsos since Justice Ginsburg’s death, 62 percent said her seat should be filled by the winner of the November election, including the vast majority of Democrats and even half of Republicans.” Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman. “Trump and Democrats Brace for Showdown Over Supreme Court Seat,” New York Times. 25 September, 2020.

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #26

  1. Jenny Lawson. The Bloggess, “I left my house today to fight for your rights and all I got was a sticker and the chance to change the world.” November 6, 2018.
    and here.
  2. What do we want to lose? Constant lying, myriad scandals, incompetent leadership, criminal pandemic mismanagement, misogyny, racism, voter suppression, global warming denials, ultra-conservative judges, misuse of the military…

Thirty Reasons to Vote: #25