I am not the tallest nor biggest person walking the planet but I do see myself as a strong, fierce, young woman. I believe to my core that our great nation should always embrace equality in every realm of our society whether that’s related to sex, gender, economics, race, environment, or any other measure. And I believe that our exquisite Constitution should protect each of us by providing us the undeniable right to make our own choices about our bodies and, for that matter, to be able to enjoy a safe, clean environment free of pollution. So, yes, the news that the current sitting Supreme Court would overturn a long-established law that is so important to so many people’s health, welfare, and freedoms is deeply disappointing. But at the same time it is not surprising whatsoever.
This summer’s Supreme Court decision is not “just” the result of the sitting justices’ decisions, but decades of political strategy and steps taken all over this country to reverse Roe v. Wade, and the foundation of that effort is the most cherished part of America’s democracy: your right to vote for your political leaders.
When I speak publicly about our climate crisis the number one question (by far) that I am asked from audiences of all ages is “Delaney, what can I do to solve the problem?” And, while people often want to talk about replacing their incandescent lights, installing a solar power system, or evolving to electric vehicles, each an example of wonderful steps and solutions that I enthusiastically encourage, the answer to that question to is vote as if your life and our future depends on it. And that’s because our lives, freedoms, and, yes, very future are directly linked to you and I electing leaders at every level of our government that share our concerns. And to do that each of us must make voting our solemn duty. A priority and act like it is exactly what it is: a privilege at the very core of our democracy.
If you, like me, don’t like the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization 5-4 majority decision that will surely lead to the fall of Roe and will almost certainly open the flood gates to states all over the country to enact laws outlawing abortion in some fashion, if not entirely, then you can control what happens next in our collective futures. You control that future by voting for the people in your local community, state, and our country that make the issues you feel are important their priority and that share the passions, ideals, and solutions you feel should be embraced and implemented is the critical key.
Dog catcher. Sheriff. School Board. City/County/Town Commission and Mayor. Judges. If Roe should teach America a single civics lesson, it’s how important electing Judges that support your concerns are to protecting what we cherish. State offices of every type whether Commissioner of Agriculture, Finance, Insurance or the Governor. And yes, your House of Representative and Senator, the folks you send to Washington, and, of course, President. Every office. Every election.
I am still young but I have voted in every election I’ve been eligible to cast a vote in. I’ve made voting a priority and that’s what each of us should do or else we should expect a lot more decisions like Dobbs (Roe) to follow on a range of critical issues including equality and, yes, our environment. But here’s the thing, a pathetic number of Americans are registered to vote and of those that are, an even smaller number actually vote and until that changes we are deeply vulnerable.
Of those 18 and older only 73% of eligible Americans are registered to vote. In the most recent Presidential election, a national event that nearly always sees the largest number of voters go to the polls (or fill out mail in ballots), only 66.8% of registered voters actually voted. And that was in one of the most divisive elections in our nation’s history, an election that set records for voter turnout as compared to any other election this century. From the U.S. Census here are the numbers:
Look at those numbers again. Barely more than ½ of all registered voters actually vote! Guess what? Those who want to elect leaders who want to end Roe, protect fossil fuel use, eliminate various marital rights, and attack countless other freedoms that an enlightened society should embrace darn well know that Americans are apathetic about voting. And those that want to destroy those hard fought freedoms, or our environment, have weaponized something you and I can control, our vote. Those that want to live in the past, leave things including things that are terribly broken alone or take America backwards, are doing everything in their power to ensure that enough people that support their views vote for their candidates.
Don’t believe me?
Then watch local school boards all over America politicized in an evangelical way by striking fear in communities over the notion that Critical Race Theory (“CRT” as one ad I heard on the radio this summer in Monroe County [the Florida Keys] called it) is being taught in primary schools despite evidence that that is not true. Or watch some of those running for State Treasurer or Chief Financial Officer roles make clear that by electing them they will not allow that state to support “woke” businesses become more sustainable at the peril of those that are polluting our environment into extinction.
Or, of course, consider that in 2016 barely 61% of registered voters showed up to elect a now twice impeached snake oil salesman President who, in turn, had the honor of appointing not one, not two, but three (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett) Supreme Court Justices whose conservative philosophies followed his and his followers’ beliefs and in the process created a majority decision that eliminated Roe.
So, yes, I am very disappointed in the Dobbs decision that will certainly destroy an important, 50+ year old, established law (Roe) designed to protect women’s rights. But am I surprised? No, not at all. And that’s because we must do far better at answering the question I am so often asked (What can I do to help?) by voting in every election to ensure the leaders we want, whether in the courthouse or the statehouse or the White House, is who wins.
Primary elections are taking place this summer and mid-term, general elections take place this fall. Voting is easy and, as I hope I’ve made clear, incredibly important. If you can’t drive to the polls, ask a friend for a ride or take an Uber. Better yet, go with a group and make it a party! And if you can’t vote in person then go online and request a mail-in ballot but for gosh sake VOTE and keep voting for the rest of your life as if your lives and our futures depend on it (because they do).
In Florida to obtain a mail in ballot, visit https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voting/vote-by-mail.