Don't just Facebook, VOTE! KNOCK DOORS!‬

Dear Islanders,

I’ve seen lots of anger lately, all over the place. Heck, I’m angry.

Friends who I have known for years are blasting each other over events in Washington. You know the story. Either our new President is a misunderstood visionary or a bronze skinned conman with a dead animal on his head. One friend will say, “This is Un-American,” the next friend will say, “If you don’t like it, leave!”

And then there are the protests, all the protests. You've seen it—the massive marches, the pink hats, the idiots kicking over garbage cans—badly—and hurting themselves. But maybe you are one of the people on the other side, convinced (and willing to fight to prove) that the Presidential Inauguration was the most regal event since the coronation of Napoleon I? As his arm went up, a glacier cracked and a rainbow appeared on a holy mountain full of oil somewhere in the American West. And then a plume of sacred smoke emerged from a sewer grate in front of Trump Tower as a flock of city pigeons flew skyward . . .

On a side note, whether you like him or not, did the President really have to sell official “solo cups” with an inauguration seal? I thought the stripped down red trucker hat was an appealing campaign gimmick. But an official solo cup inspired by a lame Toby Keith song about getting plastered?

The conservative icon I grew up with was William F. Buckley. I would consume Firing Line reruns like candy. Often, I didn’t agree with him, but I loved his elegance, his sophistication, and even his style. And he would debate anyone, liberal or conservative, with great intelligence. Now the conservative icons are asking me to raise (and purchase) my official red solo cup?

I have a cure for your outrage—vote.

Protests matter. They do. The civil rights protests helped changed America. And the Vietnam protests helped stopped an unlawful war in Vietnam that took too many lives and sapped our national spirit.

Today, social media matters too. People decry social media like it’s a dirty word. “He uses social media”, they say with a whisper, as if they are referring to an embarrassing habit. To me that’s like saying, “He uses the telephone.” Social media is just another communication tool. You can use a phone to call your mom and tell her you miss her, or you can use it to prank call your neighbors. Same rules apply to social media. You can tweet inspirational quotes or you can call people losers all day. I certainly have moments where I think, “That post was really not worth it.” But I also have moments where I think, “Wow. It’s great to stay connected like this.” Or even, “It felt good to get that off my chest.”

But all the silly posts in the world, and even the loudest and most fervent protests and rallies don’t mean a thing unless you vote. I can’t believe how many people I have met—even people who are very vocal online—who have told me they never vote. Not voting, but going to a rally or social media and yelling about how dissatisfied you are, is like getting dressed to go bowling but not actually standing up when it’s your chance to roll. Yes, not bowling is like looking at your ball and saying “Why aren't you a strike!”

You need to register, show up, and vote. And stop making excuses about how all politicians are bad and your vote doesn’t matter. It does! In fact, it matters a whole lot more than your Facebook post where you creatively insult President Trump’s hair.

Here’s another cure—get involved

When I first showed up to a Democratic Party meeting on Grand Island there were two people there— and I was one of them. I’m told the Republicans have more members. But far, far, far too few people are involved in both parties—all parties. I want you involved. No, we need you involved.

Believe in yourself. If you run for office, you might not get in the first time. Heck, they might not even give you the nomination. I have friends who have tried for years, but the gatekeepers have kept them out. Pace yourself. Please remember that victory comes in a million little steps. If you keep trying, eventually the gate will fall.

Or maybe you don’t want to run for office. The parties still need committee members. Even knocking doors and getting signatures for just one hour each year (not a month, or a week, but a year) would make a huge difference in a community where so few people are involved. But Republican or Democrat (or whatever else), if you show up at the meeting, you will have a far greater chance of making an impact than you would just ranting online or even going to a rally.

Accept my challenge. Protest, vent, but also vote, run, and knock doors. We have a civic duty. "The strength of the constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are constitutional rights secure." Albert Einstein—a refugee by the way
So, will you get involved? Will you vote this November or in the upcoming Spring School Board races? Or will you continue to just vent on Facebook?

With highest regards,