Can you spare a vote?

The Former Guy (TFG) made a call to the GA Secretary of State in the days following the release of unofficial election returns in November 2020. Those reports showed TFG lost the election to extend his reign of terror by a decisive margin. He was recorded telling the Secretary that he just needed to find 11 thousand votes, that’s all, just find 11k+ votes.

That didn’t happen.

Then he tried to pressure the Vice-President into a refusal to certify the election returns when Congress reviewed them on January 6th, 2021. He refused to accept the reality that the Vice-President had no legal or Constitutional authority to do that, but he enraged a brewing mob of his supporters to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” to do…I’m not entirely sure what, but apparently to interrupt or prevent that certification from taking place.

I’m not entirely sure whether the effort to block certification of election results that affirmed the Joe Biden as President of the United States ultimately failed because of ineptitude, or providence, or resistance from police on Capitol Hill. Whatever it was, the election results were confirmed, but not for a lack of trying to do otherwise. In the minds of many, here in country and internationally, it was a shameful display of sour grapes and delusional fanaticism.

So, more than six months later, TFG and his supporters are still whining about the election results. I’ve seen frightening interviews with some of these folks on television, and they state their refusal to accept President Biden as a legitimately elected President. There have been pledges to return TFG to office on March 4th, which passed uneventfully. The date has now changed to August, but rest assured they say, this is going to happen. The Emperor will be returned to the seat of his rightful power.

I don’t know whether I should write this off as the delusional ravings of people disconnected from the reality the rest of us share, or if I should take it seriously as a harbinger of continued combative response. If the latter, I am a bit uneasy, not because I believe they could succeed an a coup, but because there will be such tremendous fallout from their failure. They did fail to disrupt the mandated election certification in January, but they left behind an enormous mess.

The mess left behind by the insurrection of January 6th was not limited to feces on the floors and walls, trash in the hallways, and property damage inside the Capitol. That mess includes the final blows to the American people’s confidence in democracy, in the election process, in our ability to have fair elections. Whether true or not, these attacks have whittled away our trust in many of our elected officials, in the process of democracy, and in the rationality of our fells.

With the Supreme Court’s 6 to 3 decision that Arizona’s brutal attacks on voting rights will stand, the legacy of TFG becomes more clear. The timbre of the Supreme Court has leaned to a decidedly conservative stance, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is on life support. The initial charge to weaken the Act was the Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 was the first salvo in that effort. The case demolished the pre-clearance requirements that have been in place since 1965, requiring certain states with history of voter suppression and racial discrimination be pre-authorized to change their voting laws. This, of course, to the end of reducing voter suppression.

So, here we are – voter suppression is now an art form, and everything is fair game. No, you can’t be given water in the line to vote, or count on being allowed to do mail-in voting (even in the middle of a pandemic). Just to make sure you understand that it will not be easy to vote, attacks on the United States Postal Service in time for the 2020 Presidential election threatened to render absentee and mail-in voting entirely useless, as mail delivery was so compromised by administrative changes delivery of absentee ballots could not be guaranteed by the election deadline.

This is not even an effort that originated in TFG’s term. It’s been going on for quite a while, because there has been a concerted effort to decompose BIPoC voting blocs. This became an emphasis following the election of Barack Obama, who served not just one term but two. Because the efforts have been so intentionally damaging to BIPoC voters, it’s hard to not see this as an effort to eliminate the chances of having another Black man (or woman) in the White House. Emphasis on the White part.

This is ugly. It’s dangerous and it’s ugly, bringing out the worst in people, bringing to the surface nasty rhetoric and reactions that many of us believed had been put to rest. But here we are for an encore on blatant and overt racism, and the storm of fury from dominant culture. Threatened with the loss of privilege and a change to the current paradigm of racial infrastructure, majority culture is willing to fight to the death, and will take no prisoners.

It’s a little frightening to be alive in a Black body right now. Hearing a news network trumpet an unapologetic call for execution of tens of thousands of people who oppose the re-installation of TFG is daunting. Some may presume such things are the work of people who should not be taken seriously, but consider Ahmaud Arbery’s death. In my estimation, this was a lynching – self-appointed armed protectors of a neighborhood spotted this man jogging and peering into a house under construction. They decided, with no evidence, that he was “susupicious” and since there was a recent rash of break-ins nearby, they added 2 and 2 and came up with 7. They attempted to seize Arbery, but he fought back (a reasonable response) and wound up killing him.

There was no evidence that Ahmaud Arbery had done anything wrong, or was in any way connected to criminal activity in the area. There was no complaint made to legal law enforcement agencies about a possible intruder. This patrol effort was not deputized or verified by the legal law enforcement agencies. They were self-appointed and had a pre-determined outcome in mind. This is how Trayvon Martin died in Florida at the hands of a so-called neighborhood patrol. This is precisely the manner in which the Night Riders and the KKK went about business in days gone by. But those days have not really gone by, because here they are again.

So, evidence be damned, truth be damned. We don’t need no stinkin’ truth – it has become entirely subjective. Empirical data is devalued, logic and science are minimized, and we’re down to “yes, you did…no, i didn’t…yes, you did! no, i didn’t! ok, i’ll just kill you then.” This is an advanced society that has a third world mindset of scarcity and unresolved conflict. I know I am, but what are you?

Where do we go from here? I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. This is a child’s game of rock ’em sock ’em robots, except there are real people clubbing each other over the head, shooting each other over anything from loud music to texting in a movie theater. There are real children getting caught in the cross-fire, real mothers and fathers grieving the loss of their children. Real police officers, for better or worse, wondering why they ever thought this was their dream job.

The COVID lockdown is waning, even though science tells us we should not let down our guard just yet, because of more contagious variants arriving on the scene. But there’s a wild abandon demonstrated by many people now, who are ready to burn their masks and bring back the mosh pits of arena-sized concerts. Some of my friends were worriedly observing people in retail establishments and restaurants who had no masks. That doesn’t worry me, since a large percentage of those people were never wearing masks in the first place.

We are the land of the free, home of the brave, even when it’s demonstrated that we are neither free nor brave. Freedom is not simply the lack of restriction to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. Freedom implies responsibility, and consideration of others. Freedom requires that you have at least a modicum of strategic thinking, whether it’s about how you spend your stimulus check on bling or at the casino, or about whether you walk down a deserted street in the middle of the night.

I have believed from the start of this pandemic that we are being given the opportunity to think about what we’re doing, how we’re living, the impact we cause. With nearly 8 billion people on this rock hurtling through space and time, we can’t just do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it. It’s time we considered the impact of what is done. We’re being given the opportunity to look at things like how we treat each other, and how our systems and laws harm people, and ourselves. We can see this as a reset, or we can be grateful it’s all over – even if it’s not – and we can get back to “normal”.

The bad news about getting back to “normal” is…it was never normal. It was simply regular and routine and what we had made ourselves comfortable with. The older I get, the more I’m sure that comfort is not enough. If we remain comfortable, we have little motivation to lift even a finger to change anything. Our muscles atrophy, our brains atrophy, and our morality atrophies. What good is survival when the world you create is merely comfortable, a flat line around the axis of “average”.

Humans need challenge. We need variance, we need the element of surprise. That’s rarely comfortable, but without needing to achieve, or overcome, we become lethargic. There’s no reason to try, there’s no reason to get excited, there’s no joy. Try something different, you might like it. And if you do like it, you may want to do it over and over again, tweaking it along the way just for giggles. That’s what keeps people off the streets, being involved in creating SOMETHING.

It’s a new day, we need a new way. Trite, but ultimately true. There is so much I don’t want to see now, but I must. I have to believe that all of this will be OK for us, but we don’t know what OK looks like. Does it look like a city that blows up, with thousands killed but saving millions on the other side of the planet? Or does it look like sunshine and lollipops and blue skies?

I have no idea what the future holds for me, or anyone else. Some days, I think I can’t keep going with this kind of uncertainty, when condominiums are crashing to the ground and my peers are dying and my heroes are falling from grace on the daily. But somehow, I do keep going, usually with a little help from my friends…the ones who call in the middle of the storm in my head just to say hi. The ones who are going through their own challenges but nonetheless keep suiting up and showing up, every day, even when they’re in the hospital fighting for their lives. The ones who still get angry about the current state of affairs, the current status quo and are still willing to fight. Those are the lights that show me the path forward.

Death be not proud. It doesn’t really care who or what calls it, world leader or crack addict. It’s all the same to death, and we are all the same at the end of this…naked babes in nobody’s arms, cold and frightened and hoping. There is where hope goes, I guess, to the end of our days. I don’t think we have to wait that long, but even if we do, it cannot be killed. No matter how discouraged we get, no matter how blind we become to its presence. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. That’s what I was taught. I don’t have to believe, but today I am choosing to believe. What have I got to lose?

There’s always a light burning, somewhere.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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