Resisting With Our Feet

(and our hands and our hearts)

A week and a half ago, I walked a precinct in Palmdale, in support of Katie Hill, the 31-year-old Democrat running for Congress in the 25th district of California. We started at the Antelope Valley campaign headquarters. The great majority of the volunteers were women, many of them young. The enthusiasm was palpable. There’s real hope that this historically Republican district will flip in November.

Knocking on doors in a suburban neighborhood, I got an ear- and eye-full of “retail politics”. Most folks weren’t home, so I slid pamphlets with my handwritten notes under the doors. Some would not open their doors. Maybe it was the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses got to their doors before we did. We saw pairs of them walking on the sidewalks, Bibles in hand. These ubiquitous door-to-door canvassers are out there every weekend, pushing a message in opposition to ours: they teach their members not to vote.

We were sent to the doors of Democrats. One grumpy guy, the apparent spouse of a Democrat, slammed the door on me. The encounters were otherwise friendly, but only a few folks seemed to realize who Katie was and what she was running for. So it was time well-spent just to get her name in people’s heads.

The angry hyper-partisan rants of Senate Republicans and of Brett Kavanaugh in response to the calm and credible allegations by Dr. Ford – the crowd chanting “lock her up!” after Trump insulted her integrity at his rally in Mississippi – provide all the inspiration we need to resist with our hands, hearts, and feet between now and November. Here’s how:
Walk precincts. In “swing” districts, this will make a real difference. 
Wave the flag. The American flag belongs to us.  It represents democracy.  But too many folks have allowed it to be claimed as the exclusive symbol of the patriarchal oligarchy that controls our government today.  The flag represents our country as a whole.  Not just part of it.  So if we are to have any hope of bringing this nation together again with shared values and larger purpose, political progressives must wave the flag.  Take a big one with you to any demonstration or march you attend, and wave it.  Hang one in front of your house in the days running up to the election.  Poke a flagpole into the ground next to the yard sign of your local progressive candidate.  Put a “Christians for” bumpersticker on the yard sign or on your bumper next to the candidate of your choice.  Identifying progressive politics with patriotism and faith makes it easier for people to shift their political loyalties “leftward”.
Bless the hands that vote. Ask people you meet: “With which hand will you be voting in November?” Grasp that hand, look the person in the eyes, and bless them, saying: “May love guide your hand to vote for the common good.”  Voting is a ritual.  By putting even more ritual into it, by getting people implicitly committing to vote, we engage them in the ritual and increase the likelihood that they’ll show up and do it.
Follow – or become – a VOTIVATOR. It’s about voting on the “buddy system”.  Copying the votes of politically-aware people you know and admire is a perfectly legitimate and appropriate way to participate in democracy.  The greater the number of people who vote, the more politicians must pay attention to all voters and respond to their concerns. Voting with your votivator increases his/her influence with politicians and political activists. As your votivator’s profile is raised, your influence on the political process increases with theirs.  And in time, with more exposure to public affairs, you can become a votivator yourself.  Make your voting choices, and, with brief comments explaining them, email/text them out to your family and friends, or post them as an “event” on Facebook.  (I invented the word “votivator” and I hope people will use it freely!)
May love guide your hand to vote for the common good, and votivate others to do the same!

Rev. Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life, USC
Website: MINDFULCHRISTIANITY.ORG Weblog: MUSINGS Follow me on twitter: @jtburklo
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Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

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