Emil Guillermo: Filling in the white boxes with glee, voting for our democracy
It used to be some people didn’t see themselves in our democracy. So they didn’t vote. They’d say, ”Why bother?”
We can’t say that any more. Bother now.
Especially if you’re part of America’s great diversity, say, an Asian American, or a person of color, or a working class person, or a woman, or an LGBTQ person. You should be feeling the threat as we approach Nov. 3. The threat is real. You have to vote.
I did already. You must.
Like the bilingual sticker on the mask says, “I voted.” On October 14, I masked up and took a rare Covid venture outside my home. I drove to my county registrar’s office.
I felt every stroke of black as I filled in all the white boxes. Our white boxes.
Here’s the good thing about voting early. You get to savor your vote. My white boxes. Now darkened to my delight. (Maybe you pull a lever, or punch something, or do something on a computer? We fill in the white boxes. What a treat).
And then you gleam. I voted. And tell everyone.
Until it’s all over and the loser concedes, it’s like walking around with a live lottery ticket. You want everyone to get in to grow the pot. Of course, I’m being agnostic. I don’t care about how you vote. Just do it.
Once it’s over, the real work begins. The count. The legitimizing.
And for the losers, the rationalizing.
So, if you haven’t voted, now it’s your turn.
You’ve still got time. Monday’s the Day of the Dead. Remember all the Covid fatalities, more than 230,000 in our country alone, and get out there.
You have through Tuesday. If you’re in Philadelphia, AALDEF will have monitors at polling places. And in New York and 12 other states, AALDEF exit pollsters will survey Asian American voters. If you see them, tell them how you voted and why.
No one else will care about your voice like the AALDEF exit pollsters.
There shouldn’t be any one among us who is hesitant about voting.
The threat of having your health care stripped away should make you want to vote.
Are you getting the money you need to pay rent? Or to keep your business from failing? All that should make you want to vote.
It’s been said this is a vote for America’s soul. It’s a lot plainer than that.
OUR DEMOCRACY SINCE 2016 Remember the first time you did something bad and nothing happened to you? You got away with it.
And I mean more than just going 45 in a 25 mph zone. A lot more.
That’s the new American moral standard, usually favored by criminals, but now firmly set by Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, and chief proponent of the $750 income tax for billionaires.
Under Trump, there’s right and wrong and getting caught. Trump’s advice? Don’t get caught. Otherwise you’re a sucker and loser. Or you have the luxury of being president and then you’ve got the ultimate protection, immunity, for as long as you’re commander-in-chief.
With all the potential criminal charges facing the man who is protected simply for being a sitting POTUS, I’d say he’s plenty motivated to stay in office.
That’s why I’m not sure what will happen on Tuesday. Will we see headlines like: “Trump Denies Votes just as he does Virus.”
Will there be an attempt to invalidate uncounted votes?
Or just an attempt to declare victory based on “voting irregularities”?
No one is expecting a graceful concession speech from Donald Trump. Then again, if he wins, or has his way, then we could expect more of the last four years, only far worse.
He’d be a scorched earth lame duck.
And he’s already scorched us pretty badly.
Since taking office, Trump has evaded accountability and thumbed his nose at conventional expectations of political civility. As the American role model for us and the world, he took advantage of every edge.
Over the last four years, Trump brought out the worst in America. And I’m not sure it can be undone.
CNN ANCHOR’S CONFRONTATION For Asian Americans, this is real.
I’m thinking of CNN anchor Amara Walker’s revelation how she, as an Asian American of Korean descent, was confronted not once, but three times by people who got in her face about whether she belonged in America. It happened at the New Orleans airport.
“I still can’t believe I went through this, “ she told fellow CNN anchor Brianna Keilar. “I’m still shaking.”
Walker described how an older man walked by her and gave her a “Ni hao.” But it wasn’t a friendly hello when followed by “Ching chong.”
“I was stunned,” Walker said. “It’s happened to me before, sadly, but every time it shocks me.”
She moved on and tried to ignore it. But later she saw the man again at an airport shop and confronted him. She asked him if he knew how racist he was being. The man smugly denied anything had happened and walked away.
Walker was mad, but went back to her gate. Five minutes later, a younger man of South Asian descent, not wearing a mask, comes up to her and says, “Hey, do you speak English?”
Walker says she asked the second man why he would assume she didn’t. The man responded by mocking a generic Asian sound.
As onlookers got involved trying to defend Walker, security was called. But when a police officer arrived, instead of confronting the man harassing Walker, the officer lectured Walker and her producer. According to Walker, the intimidating officer said, “Asking someone if they speak English is not racist, OK, do you understand?”
The transgressions against Walker are all a consequence of Donald Trump using anti-Asian hate rhetoric since March, when he began calling Covid-19 the “China Virus” or “Kung Flu.”
More than 3,000 incidents were reported to Stop AAPI Hate in the first months of the pandemic.
This is why you must vote.
ONE LAST APPEAL Finally, to my conservative friends. I know you are good people. Please vote. If not for a person, then for our country.
It should be obvious, but I glimpsed Peggy Noonan’s column in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. And she, one of the nattering nabobs of the political media, declares she is NOT voting.
“Is abstaining an honorable choice?” she asked rhetorically in her column. She answered, “For me, it is the only one. Sometimes you just have to hold up your hand and say no, bad choice, bad paths.”
But abstention? This isn’t premarital sex. This is democracy.
Abstaining is the chicken’s way out. And that besmirches the chicken. If you can’t allow a positive compromise for the sake of our country, you’re not playing the game right. But this is the mindset that’s created the highly partisan gridlock that’s killed governance since the late ‘80s.
Noonan should turn in her nabob card.
Her abstaining is the ultimate in white privilege. White elitists will survive no matter what happens. They can afford not to vote. She’ll still have a voice.
Everyone else? Mark your ballot–with glee.
It’s your vote, your voice.
It’s worth the wait, and all the trouble.
It’s our time to save democracy.
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page. The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.