Today was the first time ever that I got to vote for a woman of color. Not just on a presidential ticket. Ever.
To be honest, I didn’t spend too much time thinking about how it would feel to vote for someone that looks like me. There are too many other important issues at stake- 200,000 innocent lives lost to the coronavirus, the future of affordable healthcare, our planet, the opportunity to stop humans from being put in cages, stopping the increasing polarization of our country.
But voting for my first woman of color candidate matters. It matters a lot.
We elected individual people to represent us, and make decisions on our behalf. If those people discussing and debating a issue have no experience or personal stake, how can they truly make the best representative decision?
I always think about the story of the local city council voting whether to renew a park lights contract. The men felt that the money could be better spent elsewhere. The women, however, pointed out that they wouldn’t walk through a park without lights. Hearing the call for public safety, the council voted to keep the lights on.
It’s a simplistic story but it illustrates the importance of having multiple viewpoints in the room. The men on the council didn’t purposely want women in the city to feel unsafe. They just hadn’t considered that women typically have to plan their routes based on lighting. Our personal experiences inform our decision-making. The more diverse backgrounds, the better and more empathic policies.
And I want to be clear, by “different” backgrounds, I’m not restricting this to marginalized groups. Though those groups have a proven history of being overlooked and underrepresented. This works whether you’re a BIPOC, woman or a farmer from middle America.
Biden & Harris aren’t perfect. They have served in public office for a long time, and have made many problematic decisions and policies. They have admitted mistakes and they continue to evolve. We must (continue) to push and challenge them on the policies we disagree with.
This election is far from over. The polls in 2016 were wrong, and we must continue to do everything we can. I’m text banking, donating to Dems in tight races, and helping people get to the polls (or figure out the convoluted voting rules). Please let me know if you need help or a pep talk. Stay safe.
P.S. Today is also the day I learned that I really and truly cannot take a selfie. I really wanted to show off my “early voter” sticker and my awesome @libbyvanderploeg voter tee featuring people from all walks of life!