“I just don’t know what I’ll do if I wake up on November 4 and Donald Trump’s won.”
“I’ll die if Trump wins the election. Then move to Canada.”
Thus are the refrains I hear from friends who, in a moment of sympathy-seeking, forget that I am concrete enough—and blunt enough—to earn a diagnosis on the spectrum. Anyone pleading impending guilt finds no safe harbor with me. I simply respond:
“If you think you’ll have a guilty conscience then, you ought to be doing more now.”
They look at me with sheepish disdain. Shrug their shoulders. Protest that, being from Massachusetts, there’s little we can do to save the rest of the country from this nightmare.
Rubbish. In the era of COVID-19, everyone has either got money or time. Money, if we’re still working (and have no place to spend it). Or time, if we’re not working. So we can contribute money: to candidates, to advocacy groups, to get-out-the-vote organizations. Or we can contribute time: calling swing-state voters, writing post cards, pestering that tiny percentage of people who are still undecided. (Though, it’s inconceivable to me that anyone whose even half-awake is still undecided. I suspect anyone taking refuge in that category is being a mischievous disrupter.) If you are not fully committed to being either Blue or Red, there are non-partisan, non-profit groups who need volunteers to help explain the intricacies of completing a legitimate absentee ballot: not as easy as it might appear. Anyone, in any state, can go to iwillvote.com and learn how to navigate their state’s rules. Better yet, help someone else while you’re at it.
Not everyone will be good at everything. I am an atrocious phone banker, so awkward that everyone I speak with claims to be the wrong person, who by the way has moved. I’m equally dismal at postcards: damaged nerves and mangled wrists from two bicycle accidents have rendered my handwriting spooky. But I encourage voters in person, and here. Fortunately, I also have the resources to support folks who have better penmanship and savvier telephone voices. And, of course, I will vote on November 3. Even though I’m from Massachusetts, a state that will likely never earn the moniker ‘swing.’
But the system is rigged, you proclaim. The electoral college veers right. Voter suppression is real. And what about the Russians? I cannot argue the reality that the United States has, perhaps the weirdest electoral system of any place that dare call itself a democracy. What other nation has fifty different sets of rules for a single Federal election? I have advocated for change it in the past, and will in the future. But over the next month, we have to navigate the current system, however warped.
The Russians, the Electoral College, the lack of drop-off boxes in Texas, the shuttered urban polling places in Georgia, even the heavy hand of the Supreme Court may play a role in determining the outcome of this election. But they won’t determine whether you feel guilty. Any guilt you feel on November 4, will be inversely proportional to how much, or how little, action you take now.
You may not single-handedly determine the outcome of this election, but the guilt is within your control. If you wake up the morning after with a guilty conscience, you’ll know that you didn’t do enough.