Voting: The ultimate self care

To recap: I told myself at the start of the pandemic that I would vote for Donald Trump if he could help successfully steer this country through the uncertain and tumultuous path ahead.

Just like the reasoning behind my deal with the devil earlier this year, decisions I’ve tried to make on the ballot have been rooted in both “the best interests” and “the best person.” I’ve voted for Republicans when there were Democrats on the ticket and I have cast a ballot for men when women were running for the same office. Voting, I think, is a good time to remember that, when it comes down to it, our lives, communities and priorities are not black and white and our decisions at the polls should have the same shades of gray.

If it’s about one issue or one person, we’re in trouble. Clearly.

So here we are … ready to vote again. Of course, we’re seeing a steady stream of voting content these days -- whether it’s actors encouraging turnout by reliving scenes from our favorite movies or television shows or it’s musicians interviewing a candidate via Instagram -- “get out the vote” is having a moment. And as someone who lives in The Swing State of Wisconsin, I’ve been on the receiving end of a LOT of these messages. A few of my favorites:

Voting as self interest

An interview on The Daily Beast’s New Abnormal podcast helped bring into focus the “Thank you, sir. May I have another?”-ess voting habit of some who vote Republican.

Hank Gilbert, who is running for the congressional seat in Texas currently held by Louie Gohmert, noted that his district, which spans 10 counties and parts of two others, is home to many who are poor and uninsured.

“Yet a lot of those people still keep voting Republican and I never have understood that,” Gilbert told podcast host Molly Jong-Fast. “You don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to chuck it out of, but you continually vote against your own self interest.”

Remember what Michelle Williams told us about self interest when she accepted her Golden Globe award last year? She said: “ … women 18 to 118, when it is time to vote please do so in your self-interest. It's what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them, but don't forget we are the largest voting body in this country. Let's make it look more like us.”

Voting as consequence

In a recent episode of The Daily podcast, New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley, who writes about the economy and tax policy, noted that at the beginning of the pandemic, when Republicans and Democrats in Washington got together to agree on a bipartisan stimulus package, they were keeping up their end of the bargain with the American people.

“Americans sort of agreed to dramatically change their lives and reduce their economic activity — where they went, and how they shopped, and even whether they could go to work — so that we would have fewer deaths from the virus to try to slow and stop the spread. In exchange, the government said, we’re going to help you out.

Things are different now.

“But the government now has sort of dropped its end of the contract. It’s not paying people additional money who can’t find jobs. It’s not offering direct support to small businesses who do not have the customers they used to, through no fault of their own. And the risk of the government’s failure to act that way is that you take what should have been a bunch of temporary damage from essentially the flicking off and on of an economy, and instead making it permanent.”

Failure has consequences … in anything. In business, you get fired. In sports, you lose. In government, you get voted out.

Voting as self care

Just like voting content, attention to and conversations about self care have continued to ratchet up as we move through the dumpster fire that is 2020.

During an interview on an episode of the "Jemele Hill is Unbothered” podcast, actor Kerry Washington noted that her efforts to maintain some kind of self care routine really just help her be able to help others. Both Jemele and Kerry noted that really, when it comes down to it, voting is the ultimate self care.

“You may not be thinking about politics, but politics is thinking about you,” Washington told Hill. “Decisions are being made about where you can live, how you can vote, how you drive, what you learn, what you eat, what you wear. And if you don’t show up and vote, you don’t get to have a say in those things.

“Be excited about making choices that impact your life. That’s self care for you.”

Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd named Max. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, publishes periodically. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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