I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. ~Jimi Hendrix
It’s a jarring sight.
An American president on the White House balcony, simultaneously and desperately trying to appear in command … and to breathe. Standing 3/4 profile, unintentionally highlighting the orange makeup line that extends from his hair to his neck. He stops, stiffens for a salute, winces, and turns to camera.
You can almost hear his internal monologue parsing and blocking the scene.
Trump’s only reality is whatever he’s staged. Truth? Unhelpful and, for his purposes, unnecessary.
He is the reality TV show president, after all. Spectacle is the objective.
Hordes of mask-less “fans,” as Trump calls them, huddled outside Walter Reed hospital swapping conspiracy theories and COVID, clamoring for a glimpse of Trump as his suburban rolled by.
Talking heads spin around and spout off why it’s a good thing that Trump has COVID. Some claim that now that he’s slain the virus (untrue) he has paved the way for us plebeians to follow suit. Don’t be afraid! He encourages. Don’t let it define you! Others have the gall to suggest he intended to catch the virus.
The smug, triumphant, braying of the Trumpian class seems to follow us everywhere.
“Owning the libs” is their reason d’être. They’re driven by hatred and vitriol and ratings.
Forgetting, seemingly, that real people are on the other end of their words. And that real people feel the impact of their actions.
That spectacle – the American president on a balcony, surveying the White House lawn as though he were an emperor, and the chattering conservative class complimenting him for “beating China” by leaving the hospital – happened last night.
What a sharp contrast to today.
This afternoon, Joe Biden delivered a speech in Gettysburg that, if you did not see live, you should take time to watch. (I’ve embedded it in the tweet below.)
It’s the speech that we need at this moment. There could be no greater contrast to last night’s spectacle, than to watch the humble demeanor of a man who’s reflective, and thoughtful, and pained that we are in the moment we are in. He minces no words about the cause: hate.
“Hate never goes away. It only hides. And when it’s given oxygen – when it’s given an opportunity to spread, when it’s treated as normal and acceptable behavior, we’ve opened a door in this country that we must move quickly to close.”
Joe Biden, even as a presidential candidate, is already helping close the door of hate.
He pledges hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness.
Four years ago, t-shirts and yard signs announced cheerfully that Love Trumps Hate. On November 9th those words cut to the quick.
But now, four years later, maybe our country is finally ready for those words to be true. Polls are encouraging. Even red states are trending toward blue. Voices of unity – not discord – are cutting through the noise. Maybe simmering in a vat of hatred for four years has clarified the stakes. Maybe we understand more intimately what “A house divided cannot stand” really meant to Lincoln, when those words came from his lips.
I remember thinking in 2016 that Love Trumps Hate was a strange slogan, because love doesn’t “beat” something. It doesn’t out-do. It’s not competitive. Love is patient, and kind, and accepting. It’s confident, and quiet, not boastful or rude.
And today, watching Joe Biden speak, the American flags spontaneously rose up to wave in the breeze behind him while he calmly, confidently reminded us of what a real leader looks and sounds like. Someone who is imperfect, but gracious. Who’s honorable, and generous. Who’s not boastful, but is braced with fortitude and ferocious integrity.
Someone who reminds us that opponents are not enemies, and that we don’t need to clench our fists.
We need to open our arms.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of October 6, 2020
Tuesday: Relational Organizing Starts With You
If you’ve not yet read this great piece in Mother Jones, trust me and take a read. It’s all about Relational Organizing – a fancy phrase for “get out your cell phone, your address book, and your holiday card list, and start inspiring friends to check their registration and vote.”
(Don’t ask me why they call it Relational Organizing. Political people have to make literally everything sound sanitized.)
So let’s make this an action, and make it simple: Go get out your phone. (I’ll wait.)
Now for the simple part. Reach out to your friends. Send them a simple text, like: “Hey! Just checking in because 2020 is a doozy (understatement?) and there’s a lot going on. I’m trying to help folks in my network get access to absentee ballots or voting information. How do you plan on voting this year?” Engage them in specifics. Have they gotten their absentee ballot? If not, do they know how to get one? If they want to vote in person, which polling place will they go to?
The more specific you can get, the better. This simple method works, guys. Phone bankers call voters all across the country trying to get people to create a voting plan because it boosts turnout so effectively.
And you know what? You’re in a much better position to help your friends create a voting plan than someone who doesn’t know them.
Wednesday: Sign Up to call georgia voters!
This Thursday, join SLPC for a phone back to inform Georgia voters they can request their absentee ballot online! https://action.splcenter.org/a/october-8th-splc-power-hour-virtual-phone-bank
This year, Georgians can request their absentee ballot online, which is a welcome change. If you have friends who live in Georgia, be sure to let them know they can request their absentee ballot online as well! (Heck – that means you can take care of Tuesday AND Wednesday’s action all in one text!) Here’s the link to the Georgia SOS office to share: https://ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov/voter/voterSearch
Thursday: All Rise; Sign Up To Textbank in rgb’s honor
If you haven’t text banked before, trust me when I say it’s easy. Most don’t even use your phone – it’s software you run on your computer. You can text 300+ people in the span of an hour.
The Women’s Mark wants to harness the energy from the RGB fight to Flip the Senate. They are texting voters in all 15 of the states with Senate races that could make a difference in this decision. Sign up here: https://www.mobilize.us/womensmarchaction/event/329779/?fbclid=IwAR3BG7Y5FU5tBQSc_lOPj9Fsb7FOWxEeVLZjCCV5TulHz_pt16u57u6Tanc
Friday: Volunteer To Protect The Vote (before and on election day)
You’ve likely heard of Trump’s “army” of volunteers who are going to “monitor” polling sites. Vote Save America (via its separate website, Every Last Vote) is promoting voter protection opportunities across the country. Click on the state opportunity to be taken to the state party’s voter protection website with information about how to volunteer to ensure 2020 is, indeed, a fair fight. Go here –> https://votesaveamerica.com/everylastvote/ and scroll down until you see the “Voter Protection Opportunities” and scroll through the states.
Here are states that have shared their voter protection projects through Vote Save America:
Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Note that not all volunteering opportunities are reserved for election day. Some states have text banks happening now, where we can inform voters about how to vote on Election Day, how to register, etc. Check it out!
WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.