Recommentunde: I Oh No | 27 Oct 2020

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Sent on 27 October 2020 Edition

Hi you,

It’s me.

We were making dinner when Elizabeth looked at her phone and yelled, “Oh no!” In 2020, that “Oh no” could have been prompted by a wide range of events. My mind skimmed through the possibilities: Did Biden test positive for COVID-19? Did the remaining polar ice caps decide to melt all at once? Did Quibi come back?? Noooooooooo!

It was none of these. Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court had weighed in on election procedures. As NBC News put it, “In a setback for Democrats, Supreme Court won’t let late mail ballots count in Wisconsin.” That’s a misleading headline. It should say: “In setback for democracy” not Democrats “Supreme Court to discard Wisconsin votes submitted by Election Day.”

The proposal was to allow ballots that were postmarked by Election Day to be counted up to six days after Election Day (because somebody poured molasses into the mail sorting machines and also a global pandemic crushing Wisconsin right now). Gorsuch, who occupies the Stolen-From-Merrick-Garland seat and Kavanaugh, who occupies the Beer-Loving-Friends-Of-Squee seat wrote “Elections must end sometime, a single deadline provides clear notices, and requiring ballots to be in by election day puts all voters on the same footing.”

Wrong. I have a better idea, humbly submitted, for how we handle elections: we prioritize the intent of the voter. That’s how it works when attempting to interpret unclear ballots. That’s how it works with in-person voting when someone who is in line before polls close gets to vote. The “same footing” that voters can control is not when the mail is delivered but when they submit it. Having your ballot postmarked by Election Day is the equivalent of being in line before the polls close. As a voter, you’ve done your part. Now it’s time for the government to do its part, and count your vote. Anything less is un-democratic.

But we don’t live in Baratunde’s America, at least not yet. So different states have different rules, and based on this, thousands of ballots are likely to be ignored, which is another way of saying thousands of Americans will be disenfranchised even though their intent was clear and they got in the metaphorical line before the polls closed. And now, let me switch to the active voice to place responsibility where it should lie.

The Republican Party is afraid of people voting, because they know then when people vote, Republicans lose. How long will this minority party operate as if it has majority rule? As long as we let them.

In How To Citizen podcast news, today we dropped an extraordinary episode featuring Desmond Meade, executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Desmond, I promise, will make you feel so good about democracy and people power. Give it a listen and share the good feels.

Next Thursday, I’ll be in conversation with Esther Perel for the podcast. Unfortunately, we can’t record live with you due to time limitations, but I’d love to know what questions you have for her. I’ll talk to her as a relationship therapist in the context of our relationship with our country and our relationships with each other across political divides, even within our own families. Reply to this email with any lines of discussion you want us to pursue.

And if you open this in time, tune in TONIGHT 7pm ET / 4pm PT as I host a new four-part series called Unfinished Live. The initiative is taking on some big structural questions in our nation, and there are some incredible humans participating. I hope you'll be among them.

And now, for your regularly-scheduled content. Lots of links today!

The folks at Esquire helped edit a Live On Lockdown moment, and it turned out great! Plus it's kind of optimistic yet still fiery.

Trump Just Signed an Executive Order Letting Him Purge Thousands of Federal Workers for Disloyalty | Vanity Fair

This crafty, creepy, little cretin. The president quietly signed an order that allows him to fire career civil servants who speak truth, while instead offering their protections to political appointees. This is the sort of democracy-rotting, authoritarian-trending nonsense that infuriates me and hurts us all. We don’t have time for this bullshit. Let’s vote this clown out and the Republicans in the Senate, then undo these shenanigans and fight the common enemy that is COVID-19. Easy.

Opinion | The Dystopian Police State the Trump Administration Wants - The New York Times

Friend and How To Citizen podcast guest, Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff wrote this alarming opinion piece about a little-known effort by the president to make policing worse. Please share this with anyone you know who says they love Black people, want police accountability, and yet support Trump. This administration is worse than most of us know.

Opinion | Who Inspired the Trump Campaign Playbook? - The New York Times

A very quick twirl through six of the president’s authoritarian re-election strategies. Remember, he doesn’t care about any of us. Time to go.

Inequality In The US Is Making It A Powder Keg | Buzzfeed News

This is one of those articles where if you just read the first one third, you’ll drown in a pool of your own rage and tears, so do yourself a favor, and read it all the way through. There’s some redemption. The spoiler is we must address wealth and income inequality regardless of this election result.

2020 Election Guide and Action Plan

My friend Anurima helped put this together, and she’s very trustworthy and incredible. If you are looking to make a difference in this election, here’s a very well-organized and vetted set of options from fundraising to texting to poll working. There’s something for everyone!

Actor turned activist Chris Evans tells the origin story of ?A Starting Point? - The Washington Post

Good for Captain America for believing in America. It would be more awkward if he didn’t. I like the idea of us having more spaces for direct interaction across political beliefs. I also want a reckoning for Republican anti-democracy hijinks but I can acknowledge that there is no monopoly on bad ideas or incompetence. Thanks Captain America!

My father gave me The Talk after the MOVE bombing. Now, I have to do it for my kids. | Perspective

This is a piece from the summer my friend Sozi wrote. (Lots of friend links in this newsletter). I think with the high speed of multiple catastrophe’s we’ve experienced, I’d like you to go back and read this June essay. It humanizes the cost of systemic racism in an effective way.

Fix, or Toss? The ‘Right to Repair’ Movement Gains Ground - The New York Times

This has nothing much to do with the current election but everything to do with our future. We are losing control over the goods we buy as technology gets embedded into more and more of our lives. Companies lock down devices, preventing access to code or the possibility of repair. My favorite advocate for this freedom-loving world view is Rich Rebuilds, my damn hero: a Black Massachusetts man who rebuilds Teslas despite the company’s extreme controls.

Activists Turn Facial Recognition Tools Against the Police - The New York Times

Yes yes yes yes!! Hahahahahahahaha! Two can play this game. Thanks for the link, Martha.

The Field: Why Suburban Women Changed Their Minds - The New York Times

This is a great episode of The Daily. It made me feel better about some of the underlying changes happening in the U.S., namely white women having a social and political awakening. Keep going!

Racism and Inequity Have Cost the U.S. $16 Trillion, Wall Street Economist Says - Bloomberg

I knew it!

Opinion | How to Talk to Friends and Family Who Share Conspiracy Theories - The New York Times

Charlie Warzel has put together a set of recommendations too many of us desperately need. This is literally news you can use. Try it.

I’ll leave you on this video of “Joy To The Polls,” a campaign to entertain and boost the spirits of people waiting in long-ass lines to vote.


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Peace and Love.