If she were old enough to understand what’s happening in our country, I’m sure my beautiful granddaughter Naya would be as concerned as we are. That’s why all of us have the duty to vote on November 6.
We are fortunate to live in a country founded on the principle that all people are created equal, and that all people deserve equal access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Statue of Liberty behind Naya is a symbol that has welcomed the world’s tired, poor, and all those yearning to be free for more than a century. Regardless of our race, religion, or politics, this is part of what makes us unique as Americans.
But while these values define who we want to be, that does not guarantee what we actually will be.
Democracy takes work, and it takes sacrifice. As parents and grandparents, we naturally want our children’s and grandchildren’s lives to be not only as good as (and hopefully better than) the lives we have been fortunate enough to live. And to make that a possibility, we often have had to sacrifice.
My parents’ generation in the 1940’s sacrificed their lives during the dark years of World War II in order to free the world from Hitler and the threat of genocide. My generation of young activists organized boycotts and took to the streets in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s to end segregation, stop the Vietnam War, and protect the environment.
Sadly, the situation we now find ourselves in as a nation may be as perilous as anything we faced in generations past. Our societal values, our environment, our lifestyle, and our very future are at risk.
The agenda being pursued by the current administration and the current majority party in Congress goes against just about everything my friends and family believe in and care about.
Worst of all, as we have just seen, they continue to stack the federal judiciary with ideologues who will preserve Citizens United, allowing obscene amounts of dark money to buy elections. They are working in some states to suppress the minority vote. Without the checks and balances of an independent court, we may slip into fascism.
The tragic reality now is that, unless we take action, as long as ideologues and extremists control all branches of government, there is little to stop them. Luckily, on November 6, we have a clear shot at change — the ballot box.
The issues are clear, and we can choose to exercise our right to vote on or before November 6 to make this the kind of country we want. If enough of us get out to vote, we can take back Congress and reverse the worst of the damage that is being done to our society and our environment.
But each of us can also do more. How? Most importantly, we can call our friends and neighbors and urge them to vote, influencing toss-up races in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas that are critical for shifting power in the House of Representatives. Call a friend and urge that friend to vote. Urge your friends to call their friends. Share this article on social media.
Make getting out the vote a priority each day until the election.
Put in this work not only for us, but for our kids, grandkids, and the future of this beautiful planet we share. Naya and all those in generations to come depend on us to protect their future.
We have two more weeks until November 6. This election is uncomfortably close, and I am afraid if we wake up the day after Election Day with extremists still in control for another two years, we, or our children — or my granddaughter Naya — may lose what little we have left.
Dr. Bruce Justin Miller was director of the University of Hawaii’s Office of Sustainability. He received the Department of Commerce Environmental Hero Award in 1999 and in his student days was coordinator of the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. He is currently working on sustainability planning.