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Perspective: It takes courage to vote

Parker Johnson

I love voting day. As a child, my hometown had a gathering every first Tuesday in November where people would come and share a meal, showing off their “I voted” stickers, though we were too politely midwestern to ever discuss who we’d actually voted for.

As an adult, I no longer get to stop for chicken noodle soup and pie, but I created my own traditions. Election night remained an evening of celebration or a moment to commit to the work ahead. Unfortunately these days, instead of my anxious excitement and hope, I now start to feel an aching sense of dread. Our elections are marred by lies about security and stability, political violence against our elected representatives, the racist and hateful messages that fill campaign ads. We’re facing existential threats to democracy and the peaceful transition of power that is the bedrock of our system.

I believe participating in our democracy, especially the traditional act of casting our ballots to select our representatives, is a small act of courage and faith. Faith in our institutions. Faith in our fellow citizens. Courage to believe that when we work together, we can create a more perfect union. Courage to believe that we are forging a better future. Walt Whitman called election day “the still small voice vibrating.” The loud, angry shouting of hatred and violence will never build a better America. But the still small voice and the quiet courage we show by casting our ballots just might.

Lynnea Erickson Laskowski is a former resident (and forever enthusiast) of the DeKalb area. Originally from Iowa, Lynnea moved to DeKalb in 2011 to complete a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. She currently lives in Washington DC with her toothless dog.