Recently, I saw this piece from The Daily Show that I can’t stop thinking about in which correspondent Roy Wood Jr. is speaking with a group of black millennials about why they could possibly be undecided in this current election.
Hilarious. Check out minute 1:29 where Wood explains that “if you are black and under 30, you are being asked to do something you have never had to do in a presidential election - choose between two white people.” He calls you out on being “spoiled” because your only experience with presidential politics is by twice electing the coolest president we have ever had ("You don't always get smooth, black candidates, children!"). He makes the crew repeat after him “Say it with me, Obama gone" as a way of convincing them that Obama is an anomaly in American politics. He is urging you to get used to the practice of lowering your standards and expectations when it comes to choosing a president. Funny stuff.
The reason, however, that I cannot get this segment out of head has little to do with laughs. This segment moved me on many levels. First, it helped me to understand your point of view. You are completely unsatisfied with both choices. You feel strongly that you do not want to be forced to pledge your support for either one of these bozos.
I empathize with you. Although I am looking forward to voting for Hillary Clinton on Nov 8, I am not 100% psyched about it. I am wary of her motives. Her character rubs me the wrong way. She is not someone I want to have a beer with. I want more than anything for this country to be led by a woman and this is not necessarily the woman I would pick.
But, here’s the thing - the main reason why I can’t get this Daily Show segment out of my head is that the idea that some of you might actually considering staying home and not participating in this election terrifies me. It terrifies me - not only because I am worried that your absence will benefit Trump - it terrifies me because it sends the wrong message about activism and democracy.
Activism in our democratic system of government is about showing up. It’s about making our voices heard. Activism isn’t about whining and complaining. It isn’t about pouting and saying “I don’t like this. I’m staying home.” It’s about jumping into the arena and fighting hard with all of your heart until something shifts.
I also saw this clip recently.
In this piece, Bernie Sanders gives folks a clear call-to-action. He acknowledges and validates Americans who are feeling angry and discouraged by their choice of candidates. But then, he emphasizes just how important it is to defeat Trump. He explains that one does not have to “support” Clinton to vote for her. We can elect Hillary Clinton and then, when she is in the White House, continue our activism. Again, there is no place for whining and pouting (“I don’t like her. I can’t trust her emails. Waah…”). It’s about us electing the person who can actually do this job and then showing up as active citizens to make sure that she hears our voices and represents our interests.
For the past few weeks, I have been exploring this concept of “Say YES!” Say Yes is the first and foundational concept of our Go Girls! Culture Code as it is all about taking on an attitude of willingness and participation - not in a way to acquiesce and “go with the flow” - but as a way of recognizing and accepting that shit is really hard sometimes and we have to show up anyway.
Let’s break down the practice of Say YES! into its 3 components in a way that relates to this vital task that lies before us.
I am ready for anything.
Unlike Trump, I will accept the outcome of this election, no matter who wins. We are engaged in a presidential election, there is nothing you can do about that. Someone will be elected president, whether we like her or not. Saying yes allows us to accept that a thing - no matter how painful - is happening so that we can make a choice about what to do next. Denying never works. Pretending it is not happening never works. Say yes. Be ready.
Say yes to keep the fun going.
This election is unique in American history as it is about so much more than the two candidates debating their policy perspectives. In this election, we get to choose whether or not we want the game of democracy to continue at all. You may not support Clinton’s policies but she has made it abundantly clear that she respects the democratic process. She respects that we are all in this together. That we all have a responsibility to make a contribution to our community and we should expect our community to show up for us when we’re in need.
Trump has made it clear that democracy is not his priority. He has positioned himself as a sovereign dictator who has no interest in engaging in collaboration or discourse. If he is president, the buck will stop with him. A vote for him closes the democratic loop. A vote for Clinton keeps the fun of the democratic process going.
Say no to keep yourself safe.
“Politics is compromise, by its very nature. But we never compromise on our values and beliefs. I will vote for Clinton and plan to continue to challenge her on her platform and these commitments when she’s in the White House.”
- DeRay McKesson, Black Lives Matter activist from his recent endorsement of Hillary Clinton
I am asking you to say yes to Clinton because she is the candidate with the best chance of moving our country forward. However, this does not mean you can’t also say no. You say yes until you can’t any longer. Say yes until Clinton and her administration start to make policies that work against your values or ignore the issues that are most important to you. At that point, you say no. At that point, you protest, you take to the streets, you call her out.
But first, we have to get her into office.
No matter the results of this election, our country will be forever changed in ways that will have dramatic effects of our girls. As Girl Advocates, it is up to us to come together and make a plan for how we will take advantage of this historic time to prepare girls and women to stand up, stand out, and take center stage.
Please join me on Thursday November 3 at 4pm PST for Girl Advocate Gathering: A Twitter Party.
Let me know if you can come. I'll make sure to follow you on Twitter.
This is Post #19 in 44 Days of YES! - a series of posts for Girl Advocates who know that empowering girls means we must empower ourselves first. Sign up for free inspiration, practical YES! hacks, and connection to other Girl Advocates just like you.