Carol A. Hand
During the DFL (Democratic-Farm-Labor Party) caucus yesterday evening, chaos and excitement reigned in equal measure. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people crowded into the old high school in my working class neighborhood to vote. I arrived early and found my way up the stairs and down winding hallways to the small classroom assigned to residents from my precinct. I was early, signed in, and found a student desk at the back along the wall and watched as the room filled to standing room only.
It was clear that the facilitator, a large woman in her 50s, had no idea what to do. I noticed a good deal of diversity in the room – elders with canes and walkers and young professionals from diverse backgrounds. Most were looking at their ever-ready smart phones as we waited for the process to begin. With little audible direction, we were all given a small light-blue square of paper with the DFL presidential hopefuls listed. The young man seated next to me and I decided that our only task was to check our choice, both being careful not to intrude on each other’s privacy by peeking to see the choice.
After we “voted” we were told we could put our ballots in the cardboard box the facilitator was holding and leave. By the time I reached the box, it was already bursting at the seams. Getting out of the room was the next challenge. Hundreds of people were still waiting in the hallway to sign in and vote. And the DFL vote was overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders. Minnesota was a solid blue-blue state (even though it’s colored red in the image below).
Image: Map of U.S. Highlighting Minnesota (Wikipedia)
This morning I realized how exciting it is to live here in a land of hope. It’s surely not perfect, but people do share concerns for social justice and the environment even though politicians don’t often listen. I also realized I will never again be able to go back to forced party choices, NEVER. In the years left to me, I will live and vote my values.
For me, the choice this time around is clear. It doesn’t matter which names are printed on the ballot. I’ll choose whom to vote for and write them in if they’re not listed. I encourage others to do the same, even if their choices differ from mine. Chaos can be an exciting, liberating opportunity for meaningful change. The important thing is to think critically about the world we want to live in, the world we hope our children will inherit. From my perspective, the choices before me are simple – ignorant thuggery, corporate capitulation, or the uncertainty of personal responsibility. Others need not agree with my assessment.
We do live in interesting times. How we live is still a choice regardless of those who tell us otherwise. We can speak our truths and still be compassionate, hopeful, and kind.
This morning I wonder. What is the critical mass necessary for changing an unjust social structure? I don’t know. But what I witnessed last night gave me hope that it’s attainable.
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