Happy Midterm Election Day 2018!!
The first article I ever wrote for Feminism and Religion, (“I Never Thought That I Would Need to Be a Part of History,”) ran just a couple of weeks after the inauguration of the current President. As I sat writing this Monday afternoon, I kept trying to find some new or more exciting way to talk about voting in today’s election, I couldn’t help but go back and take a look at that first article.
As I wrote in that article, I never really imagined that I would need to be a part of history. As a scholar of theology and feminism I certainly understand that we are a long way from being a truly inclusive society. We still need to fight oppression and push for the acceptance of all those who are othered in our society, but somehow our current issues and “battles” seem so much larger than they did only a couple of years ago.
Larger or not, the steps we take to make change happen seem to, at least generally, stay the same. We can educate ourselves and those around us, we can march and protest, we can write, speak, or preach and today we can vote.
Many things have changed since I wrote that article almost two years ago. Personally, I’ve learned and experienced so much more, I’ve earned a doctorate, and moved to a new state. Publicly, and politically things have changed too. The news is constantly filled with distressing and disheartening realities: the separation of families, the mistrust of survivors of violence, and the denial of personhood for so many. As they say, the days are long but the years are short. The days feel long… but it also doesn’t seem possible that it has already been two years since this President was elected. So much can change in two years.
So many people have put so much time, energy and passion into the continued fight against complacency, and against the attempts to normalize things that we know are not normal. As voters today, we too get to take a stand against this complacency and those attempts to normalize that which is most definitely not normal.
I suspect strongly that if you are reading this piece I don’t need to tell you why you should vote. I imagine many of you have already mailed in or dropped off your ballots. Others of you likely have your voting plan in place for today… perhaps you are picking up a friend on your way to the polls, or a group of your co-workers are going together during your lunch break. No matter how you make your voice heard, I rest assured that you know the importance, that you can feel the need to take the time and effort to cast your vote.
I still remember the first time I ever voted. It was November of 2008 and I, along with a few other college sophomores, headed to the nearby polling location. I remember feeling so much pride, as well as excitement, as I went through the voting process for the first time. Looking back it also feels incredibly important that I helped to elect the first African American President of our country. I hope to be able to help elect our first female President soon.
When I head to my polling place today it is unlikely that I will feel that same excitement and anticipation to cast my vote, but I will know that I did something important, I will know that an action I took has the power to make real change.
Recently I read an article by Nancy Gibbs entitled, “Vote Like It Matters. Because Then It Will” and I was struck by the simplicity of the points she makes as she tries to convince the reader to truly “vote like it matters.” One point that particularly resonated with me is to “vote if the voices you hear don’t speak for you…We shape outcomes only if we provide input.” It seems like such a simple concept. If the voices that are in positions of power do not stand for the things that you do, if they do not listen to the people they have sworn to represent then it is time for a change, it is time to do something differently.
Remember the importance of being present, the importance of simply showing up. When you go to the polls today, and when you watch and read the election coverage in the coming hours and days know that your actions matter, that you can be a part of change. As Gibbs writes in her article, “just because the Leading Man commands center stage, through all the acts of comedy and tragedy and farce, does not mean he gets to decide how the play turns out. Every year, come November, the audience becomes the actor. Young and old, red and blue-the stage is yours. The most fateful question in any election cycle is not who’s ahead; it’s who shows up.”
Dr. Katie M. Deaver, earned her Ph.D. in Feminist Theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Deaver holds a B.A. in Religion and Music from Luther College in Decorah, IA, as well as MATS and Th.M. degrees from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her dissertation explored the connections between the Christian understanding of atonement theology and the prevalence of domestic violence in the United States. Her other areas of interest include the connection between power and violence, sexual ethics, and working toward the elimination of the oppression and exploitation of women and girls around the world.