How many of you can identify?
It’s been a long day: the kid’s laundry disaster made everyone late; the computer at work has a mind of its own; and meetings were too many and too long. Now it’s time for Parents’ Night at school, and groups of you are standing around waiting for it to start. Someone starts talking about the elections and how horrible it is that Dino Rossi was robbed and didn’t get voted into the Governor’s Office.
Do you shoot back with a pithy and insightful remark that displays at once humor and grace, conveying your deep-felt democratic ideals of inclusion and oneness with the universe?
Or do you stand silently by, smiling? Not in agreement, but that awkward smile of “Oh no, what do I say?” That would be me. I’m tired, I’m frazzled, and the last thing I want is to pick a fight with a parent at my child’s school. Ya’ gotta’ pick your battles, right?
Fast forward to the February 2008 Precinct Caucuses. So many people, so many enthusiastic Democratic neighbors. I never, ever would have thought she was a Democrat. I didn’t know she was in my precinct. He lives two houses down; why haven’t we ever talked politics? Oh my gosh — I am not alone! I am not alone! I have found a home for my voice. Time to speak up for myself!
Speaking up takes courage, but it’s worth it!
Why do we fear dissent? Why do we expend so much energy avoiding conflict? What’s the worst that will happen? Someone might not like us? Our kids will be embarrassed? (“Oh, Mom — ”) People decide whether they like you or not within minutes of meeting you, regardless of your politics. No point beating around the bush with people or being shy when the stakes are so high.
My message to Sammamish is that this year’s elections are too important to worry about being popular. If, like me, you support Obama, Gregoire, Burner, and other Washington State Democratic candidates for public office, now is the time to use our voices to speak up for change. We have to do everything in our power to effect the “change we believe in.”
I challenge us all to answer the call and do more than just speak up. Let’s go a step further. Sign up to be a precinct captain, contact your local party representatives, volunteer, get the vote out, work tirelessly to recruit others to the cause.
Do not rest, do not waver, stay the course. Be not afraid, you are not alone. We can do this with our voices. Yes we can!
-Allison Rae Hannigan