Installment No. 1: There is NO SUCH THING as not voting
As a state, North Carolina is about as Purple as they come. We’re the hottest of battlegrounds, the swingiest of swingers.
Voting is an important duty for everyone, of course. But guess what? It’s even more important if you happen to live in North Carolina.
I’ve lived here for more than 30 years now. As a progressive voter, I’m both thankful for and mindful of the responsibility I have as a voter in this state. It was thrilling when North Carolina helped put Obama in the White House, and it was devastating when we were the very last state to be called for Trump in 2016.
When progressives turn out, we win. Progressive policies such as expanding Medicaid and offering a social safety net for vulnerable populations are overwhelmingly popular. More urgently for this moment in history, progressives form the bulk of a tenuous coalition that is safeguarding our democracy from toppling over into an authoritarian state. That’s why I don’t think I will ever understand why so many progressive voters only show up when the presidential race is on the ballot.
Earlier this year, progressive-leaning young adults rushed to register to vote in our state, but it’s not clear that they are indeed voting. We have just a few days—hours really—left in Early Voting and as of October 28, Politico was reporting that in North Carolina, “Voters aged 30 and younger account for just 5.4 percent of ballots cast so far, compared to 16.5 percent of those who voted early or absentee in 2020.”
NC progressives who don’t cast a ballot are essentially voting for a Supreme Court that could wipe away women’s rights to privacy and choice. They are essentially voting for school boards who have no problem banning books. They are essentially voting for a state legislature that could negate the Governor’s veto, unleashing 50s-era laws on everything from protecting clean water to controlling our flagship universities to limiting birth control.
In other words, for progressives in a Purple state, there is no such thing as not voting.
Meanwhile, North Carolina’s Senate race is statistically TIED. Cheri Beasley’s last political race—for Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court–was lost by 401 out of nearly 5.4 million votes cast, making it “perhaps the closest statewide race in state history.” (From the website ElectionsDaily.) There are 100 counties in North Carolina. If a handful—a literal handful—more progressive voters in each county had chosen to vote, she would have won.
This year Beasley is running for Senate. Whether she wins or loses, the impact will be felt across the nation.
As President Biden said on November 2, nothing is guaranteed about democracy. “Every generation has had to defend it, protect it, preserve it, choose it.”
I don’t have a huge following, but as a writer this is what I must do to defend democracy. To my fellow progressives, to the newly registered, and to the conservatives and Republicans also upholding the pro-democracy coalition, I’m writing to ask you to please cast a ballot this year. If you’re in North Carolina or Georgia or Arizona or Pennsylvania or Ohio or any other Purple state, please do whatever it takes to overcome the obstacles and find a way.
Please make a plan to vote. Please vote for the judges, the state legislators, the commissioners, the school board, all the way down the ballot.
Please don’t let anything get in the way.
And please take a friend.