“You didn’t come to a full stop!” my elderly father yelled.
“Nobody is near us, and I slowed the car to a crawl,” I protested after making a rolling-stop.
My father, who was too old to safely drive, was convinced he was still a far better driver than I, even though he let me drive him almost everywhere. “It doesn’t matter,” he replied. “The law says when you come to a stop sign you should come to a complete stop. It doesn’t matter if there are any other cars around or not.”
Some people, like my dad, obey the rules. Some people break the rules. I prefer to make the rules.
Yet without significant dictatorial power, few of us can make rules that affect everyone. But we can make rules that affect us and a few others. At a young age I became a game inventor, changing the rules of card games I didn’t like into games I liked. I got the chance to change the rules of Spades, after I was promoted to Recreation Specialist where I worked at an in-patient alcohol and drug-treatment center for adult males. At first, my boss, the program director who often played cards with the clients, objected. “I don’t want to play any game you came up with.” Later, he had to eat those words, as soon all of the clients who played Spades only wanted to play with my rules.
Several years and several games later, I worked with a talented programmer to get one of my games on my computer. I found out there was a game company in Menasha, Wisconsin called Big Daddy Games. I got permission to show the game to the president of the company. Hoping to sell my game, I flew to Wisconsin. I was a better inventor than salesman. I bombed.
About a week ago, I was asked to give a brief presentation to a progressive political post-card writing group, as to why those of us in South Carolina should be writing personal notes to voters in Wisconsin.
If you are anything like me, you are appalled at the recent decisions made by our extreme Supreme Court. (See Not SCOTUS, SCROTUM.) Abortion rights are gutted. Efforts to control deadly guns have been thwarted. Executive power to fight climate change has been nullified.
Meanwhile the effects of global warming and catastrophic climate change threaten our very existence. I cannot contemplate human beings becoming extinct. But I can imagine the killing of millions of people fighting to find somewhere safe to live, and millions of others dying because they can’t escape the ravages of climate change. It’s not the death of our species that terrifies me; it’s the dying.
But what can we do? What can any of us do?
We can write postcards to Wisconsin.
If we win in Wisconsin and in Pennsylvania, the Democrats will finally have a real Senate majority. With a real majority, we can change the rules of the Senate, abolishing the filibuster and permitting positive legislation. Moreover, not until this is done, can Biden add four, or at least two, new seats to the Supreme Court—to regain our rights, save our lives, and save our planet.
Knowing that I tend to be long-winded and don’t know where to stop, I decided to write a brief presentation for the Thursday postcard group, lest I keep talking when everyone else wants to eat. Here’s what I said:
November 2022 will be one of the most important elections in our country’s history. Hey, weren’t we told that in 2020, in 2018, and in 2016, too? They can’t all be the most important election in history. But all of the previous recent elections were paramount.
In 2016, a perfect storm of catastrophic events—including Comey’s October surprise, and a debacle of the Electoral College—gave Trump a narrow victory. A swing of about 35,000 votes out of 159 million who voted would have kept Trump out of the White House.
In 2018, a Democratic majority in the House enabled the Democrats to impeach Trump—twice.
In 2020, had Biden lost, either by votes, cheating, or violent insurrection; it would be “game over” for democracy in America. Moreover, it appeared the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. This was an illusion as two Democrats in name only, Manchin and Sinema, thwarted almost all of Biden’s agenda for reform.
Pessimistic political pundits predict that the Democrats will lose the House and Senate in 2022. However, as warned on every prospectus, “Past performance doesn’t always predict future results.” Whether or not the Democrats win or lose the mid-terms in 2022, depends on what the Democrats do. It depends on me and you. If too many Democrats sit out the election because it is an “off year” election that doesn’t include a vote for President; then the pundits will be right, and we will lose.
But, if we can get out the Democratic vote for this critical mid-term election, we should and can win. The opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Tomorrow’s history will be determined by what we do today.
Without hyperbole, the future of our country, indeed the world, is on the line.
- Only by electing Democrats can we re-establish a woman’s right to choose the right for a safe and legal abortion.
- Only by electing Democrats can we have a chance to minimize the carnage of mass shootings and curtail gun violence everywhere in America.
- Only by electing Democrats, can we preserve the right to vote and protect our Democracy from those who would prefer authoritarian minority rule by rich Republicans.
- Only by electing Democrats, can there be any hope our country will fight to protect our very lives from the consequences of catastrophic climate change.
So today, let’s fill out post-cards, not for a local election in South Carolina, but to urge every Democrat in Wisconsin to vote this November. Your personal note will encourage Democratic voters in Wisconsin to get out and vote.
Why Wisconsin? An article by Politico says it better than I can:
The only way Democrats can codify Roe v. Wade into requires two new votes to weaken the filibuster. Enter Battleground Wisconsin.
Senate races in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania represent Democrats’ best chance to net two extra Senate seats — enough to chip away at chamber rules that empower the minority party to block legislation.
Democrats need to pick someone to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson, a human controversy-seeking missile who opposes abortion rights and has given confusing accounts of his actions on Jan. 6.
Democrats need to beat Johnson to have any hope of executing their agenda next year.
Someone commented that it seemed surreal that only 35,000 votes made the difference between Trump winning and losing. In Wisconsin Trump only got 22,748 more votes than Hillary Clinton, winning by less than 1% of the vote. Yet there were even closer votes in our history that had huge consequences. As historian Allan Nevins wrote in his biography of Grover Cleveland…
Only once or twice in our political history, has victory of defeat hung on so delicate a hair, for a change of six hundred votes in a single State would have reversed the verdict.
My mind boggles at the idea a few hundred votes this November in Wisconsin could decide the fate of our country—indeed, the fate of the world. But what in the world could I say in the space of half the back side of a postcard?
So I changed the rules. Instead of hand-writing an entire message, I only hand-printed the address. I typed my personal message:
If you believe a woman should have the right to control her own body—
If you believe children shouldn’t be killed by guns in school—
If you believe we need to prevent catastrophic global warming—
If you believe we need to preserve Democracy and the right to vote—
Be sure to vote this November so the Democrats can have a majority in the Senate.
If we vote, we can make a difference. Thank you.
Of course, to fit the above message into a 3” by 3¼” space, I had to use a small but readable font and greatly reduce the right margin. Then, using training from Second Grade, I cut out each message and taped them onto a post-card. I signed my name at the bottom and put a return-address label at the top.
We were told not to mail the post-cards until a specific date in October. The plan is to send only one postcard to those who vote in every election, and two postcards to those who usually don’t vote in mid-term elections. As someone who loves games, even political games, I believe this is an excellent winning strategy.
But shouldn’t we support candidates who aren’t in swing states? Yes! I asked people to support me when I ran for office as a Democrat in a red state. It does no good to win the Senate and lose the House. The difference is there is a Senate race every six years, and a House race every two years. Even if you don’t have a Senate race in your state, you still need to do all you can to help the Democrats keep the House Democratic.
But there is a little more to the story in Wisconsin. Yesterday I got an email from Bernie Sanders urging me to support Mandela Barnes who is running for Senate in the Wisconsin Democratic primary:
In this moment of unprecedented challenges to our country, we need an unprecedented response. We need a movement of people who will fight for democracy and fairness and against greed, oligarchy, authoritarianism, and bigotry.
There is no more important U.S. Senate race this year than in Wisconsin, and Mandela is building the kind of movement necessary to defeat Republican Ron Johnson and his billionaire backers.
Not only is Mandela Barnes the most likely to defeat Ron Johnson; Barnes supports Biden adding more seats to the Supreme Court. The email asked me to donate three dollars. I gave Six.