The Symbol of 2020

It isn’t always easy. Feet get tired, arms get tired, hearts and hopes get tired. Sometimes problems seem too big or complex. But we do not march alone. Ants are stronger together. Bands are louder together. People are more powerful together. … And together, we find the courage to march. ~Tessa Allen, Sometimes People March

Right after the 2016 election, I wore a safety pin on my jean jacket.

You may remember doing the same.

I wore it to show other people around me that I was disgusted with what was happening in our country. I wore it to show solidarity with other women – even in places where we couldn’t verbalize it.

One afternoon I was at the grocery store near my son’s then-preschool. It’s a very red area of the state, where Biden/Harris signs are stolen nightly (and the houses daring to put them up are egged as punishment). The grocery checker glanced up from her work scanning the milk, and the juice, and the applesauce.

“I like your pin,” she said softly. Her eyes flitted up to mine.

“I’m glad you do,” I said, just as softly.

She smiled, and I did, too. We both understood that we had broken some unspoken rule.

The safety pin came off of the jacket, eventually. It wasn’t a perfect way of expressing our solidarity, and as with many things we learned that the safety pin symbol had many more facets than we anticipated. But I remember how that felt, to walk around, proudly proclaiming my membership in the Resistance with something as innocent as a safety pin.

So, when I think of the aftermath of 2016, and how we all muddled through those days, I often think of that pin.

I also think of The Hat.

I will never be able to look at a red hat in the same way again. A simple red hat with white lettering says so many things to me. None of them positive. When I see someone coming down the street wearing a red MAGA hat, I know a lot about them long before they open their mouth.

I feel the same way … about masks.

I know whether someone is a science-denier from 500 feet away. I know if someone across the parking lot cares about anybody other than himself. I know if someone is willing to be a little less comfortable while they’re grocery shopping to save someone else’s life. I can also tell if they think it’s better to sacrifice my health so their eyeglasses don’t fog up.

I know all of those things in a glance. If they are wearing a mask, and taking it seriously, then I know that they believe in the collective good – and in our personal responsibility to ensure it.

And, at least in my neck of the woods, if they’re wearing a mask I have a pretty good hunch they’re a Democrat.

Of course, masks are a little different from pins and hats. Whereas pins and hats can feel like team jerseys that you wear to show your group allegiance, masks are more – much more – than a very fast way to visually sort a crowd.

But it’s true that, while they’re a safety measure, they are also a symbol. Because a symbol is really just a visual shortcut – a way for me to tell you many things in a glance. And there’s a lot that a simple mask says.

When I wear a mask it’s my way of telling you that I care. That I’m a safe person. That I consider your life to be worth saving, and I’ll do what I need to do to save it. That I believe we can all do a little bit to make our lives better. That taking small measures to ensure my and your safety doesn’t mean I’m living in fear. It means I’m grounded in reality. That I consider it a patriotic duty to look out for other people, and not focus so selfishly on myself.

And, when I’m feeling particularly saucy, it’s my way of saying how I’ll vote.

A few weeks back, I was wearing a blue facemask decorated with donkeys and the word VOTE. I was at the grocery store (because I really don’t go anywhere else these days) and as I went to pass a woman in an aisle, her eyes lit up.

“I LOVE your mask!” she gushed through the fabric of her own.

I smiled, even though she couldn’t see it. (I do try to smile with my eyes.)

I wonder if that cashier who quietly commented on my safety pin four years ago is now wearing a mask like mine.

Gosh, I like to think so.

Not much time left, friends.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of October 20, 2020

Tuesday: We’re in the final stretch!

Two weeks from today this will be nearly over. So keep that in mind, and keep your head down for the next two weeks. It’s going to go fast!

Join Swing Left for their Last Weekends projects. You can join up with their Super States strategy, or their Last Weekends (which are more localized actions) – but either way, they’ve done a great job curating things you can do in the last two weeks! Head over to to learn more.

Wednesday: 2020 Victory!

The Biden campaign has a Mobilize page – 2020 Victory – that curates all of the events near you to join, as well as phone banks, text banks and other virtual volunteering opportunities – and even a few socializing events! Check it out and share it widely:

Thursday: A pumpkin makes a GREAT sign!

Honestly, I laughed out loud when I saw these. The Pumpkin Lady creates amazing (and free) downloadable pumpkin carving patterns. Some of those she’s labeled Americana relate directly to voting! So they make the PERFECT reminder for your friends and neighbors to vote.

Remember that YOU are one of the most powerful influences on people in your own orbit and social circle. Social pressure works! And doing it with a kicky pumpkin pattern? Even better.

Check them out HERE.

Friday: Play for the Polls

This one gets huge bonus points for creativity! Play for the Vote is a coordination of musicians across the country. “We are organizing musical performances at polling locations across the country on Election Day with the goal of increasing voter turnout by providing a more positive voting experience.” As a bonus, by telling their social media following, they’re encouraging turnout!

Head over to Play for the Vote to learn more:

I have to say, guys – I’m loving this. We’ve got chefs feeding people in line and now bands playing for voters. It just goes to show – we all have something to offer! So, as we tick down the last two weeks, think of what YOU can do on election day to brighten things for voters in your area. Maybe bring a radio? Extra hand sanitizer to share?


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!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at or via paypal at
My deepest gratitude in advance.

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.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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