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Friday, March 4, 2016

Protest in the Face of Demagogues--Does Dumping Your Vote Work?

Two days ago, I had a political conversation with a kind, savvy woman working a front desk job. She said if Bernie Sanders wasn't the Democratic party's candidate, she would "dump" her vote as protest, by writing in Bernie's name and to heck with practicality. 
"Someone has to make the point," she said. "And I'm going to do it. Nothing changes otherwise." 

I thought about her after I got home. I know that once people have made up their minds, argument makes them more determined in their position rather than less. Listening is sometimes more powerful, but still, on impulse, I called her at her work place. 

"We don't often talk about this, but as a Holocaust survivor family, I feel we don't have the luxury of dumping a vote. There are photos on my wall of children from our family, children who look like my own--except mine are now older than those children were ever allowed to become. 

Samy and Suzanne, the older two here. Two of the children from our
family who were murdered in the Holocaust.

"When it comes to a demagogue," I said, "When it comes to a hate-monger, we have to find another way to protest. We can write letters, make phone calls, go to an actual protest, but we cannot afford, ever, to throw away a vote. Hitler came to power through an election. We will hold our nose, if we have to, and vote the least of evils." 

She was silent for a long time. Then she thanked me. "I'm glad you called back," she said. 

I'm glad I did, too. We cannot let the haters win. Ever again. 

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