ELWAYVILLE: Speak With Your Vote

It’s time to stop posting on social media—and start doing something.

Here are three things I don’t understand in America right now:

One: Why we still soft-talk the increasingly apocalyptic reality of global warming, politely nodding as perhaps the single greatest collective scientific consensus (i.e., that global warming is clearly human-caused and accelerating at this moment) in history is questioned by ill-intentioned profiteers and grossly uninformed fools.

Two: Why we are allowing the wholesale giveaway of our public lands—the very soil of our heritage, the actual ground beneath our feet that thousands of Americans died protecting—to enrich those very same profiteers, at a loss to all the citizens who regularly enjoy that land? #WeAreAllPublicLandOwners—that includes hunters, hikers, horsemen, wood-gatherers, photographers, and skiers. etc…

Three: How many of those very same profiteers (corporations, politicians, insert the name of your least-liked, Big-Brother media channel here), have blinded us from questioning their bias and complicity in this country-changing display of wanton ignorance by encouraging us to argue amongst ourselves instead.

It’s very strange to me that in this giant, richly varied, independence-celebrating country, everyone is constantly being hysterically encouraged to identify themselves as “Red,” or “Blue,” and ignore the million obvious differences—and strong similarities—that we all share. That simplification misses untold shades of humanity, all with a love for family, friends and country at the core. 

It’s absurd to suggest that we can’t find common ground with our neighbors, co-workers and even old acquaintances from school. I believe the more “they” pit us against each other, the more power they have to influence our thoughts. I suspect it has quite a bit to do with the old saying that, “once you can be categorized, you can be dismissed.”

To be clear, I’ve got a lot friends who voted for Trump, probably two or three of whom are fortunate enough to be in the “one percent club,” several who are small business owners and one black former U.S. Marine who hates everything he believes about the Democrats. On the Clinton side, which does include the majority of my friends, there are policewomen, doctors, attorneys, window cleaners, landscapers, pro skiers, tree trimmers, artists and writers, just to name a few. Most of them are extremely concerned about how human activity is bulldozing the planet.

Both sides would have preferred a better candidate, like maybe Teddy Roosevelt. But they all voted. At least they said so. They at least participated in the very thing that makes us a democracy. It’s the people who don’t vote who piss me off.

Seriously, if you vote early, it takes about as long to cast a ballot as it does to buy and eat a donut. I bet you make time for that.

Voting—or not voting—was a major point of conversation at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Denver this July. There was the perennial hyperbole about game-changing tents, Mercury-winged shoes, and second-skin baselayers, but everyone in the outdoor industry was pretty spooked about the escalating giveaway of our public lands.

The outdoors are the outdoor industry. The problem is that even in a state like Colorado, where skiing, hiking and scenic sightseeing are the keys to our economic engine, most people still don’t spend a lot of time outdoors. Frankly, they all have their own, other “most pressing issue” lists. If you spend most of your time in malls, on buses or in a dark basement room playing Fortnite, it can be easy to forget that clean lakes, undrilled forests and healthy ecosystems are worth giving a shit about.

I get that. I don’t spend all my time pretending to be a superhero Earth-saver either, but my parents did raise me to understand that the greatest aspect of living in this country is the right to participate. The same was true of most of the other Outdoor Retailer attendees. Their parents had taught them that one of the greatest rewards of living in a democracy is the privilege of showing up and casting your vote.

If you have never voted, it’s not nearly as stressful and demanding as getting your driver’s license, or your marriage license. Some of the present people in power would like to make voting very difficult, however. They’re terrified of actually having to answer to the people, rather than some lobbyist holding a fat check. The patriotic/feelgood/howdoyoulikemenow? act of simply registering to vote makes it more likely that “We the People,” get to be the boss.

The truth is, the powers at be would prefer that none of us vote. Whether you’re a wage-earner, a home-keeper, part-timer, entrepreneur, caregiver, artist, Gig geek, poet, barista or whatever, the less active you are, the more of your tax dollars they can steal. The same goes for all you Facebook Activists who think that any single one of your political posts are changing anything at all in the real world.

Sure I give those posts a like. I agree with you. But take note of the alleged George Orwell quote from 1984, the book that for the last 30 years has predicted our present state, saying, “They will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.”

That quote’s actually from the play, produced in 2013. And the person not looking up from their screen is you. Webposts won’t save any of us, or change anyone’s mind. Voting still has a chance. 

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