It was strange standing in line for the Democratic Primary. I felt like a stranger looking into brown and black faces, trying to manage the paper ballot, and pretending I knew what I was doing, like I was not seeing the names on the ballot for the first time in my life. I skipped most of the offices, wishing I was more prepared. Wishing I hadn’t spent so much time and effort following the one race I had the least impact in; the Presidential election.
I’ve spent all morning wondering what it would be like to vote as a Democrat. I don’t belong. I know that. But I also know that most people probably feel like they don’t belong. The Democratic Party is for those who don’t belong, isn’t it? It is the party of minorities. The party of second chances. The party of those who feel left out. In that way, I guess I do belong, as much as anyone else does.
What would it be like to try to belong to the Democratic Party? They are so diverse! How do they even have a party at all? One thought kept coming back to my mind. To belong to the Democratic Party, I would have to do a lot of listening. On my blog, I do a lot of talking. Talking is good, especially when you’re in pain. But I don’t think that talking is what our country really needs right now. We need really, really good listeners.
I hope I can do better to develop that neglected virtue of listening. Empathizing, understanding, and withholding judgment are essential for creating unity. Most people and most problems are a lot more complex than I want to think they are. Whether I am a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, isn’t as important as whether I have prepared myself for an election. My heart vibrates with the truth of this statement: A nation is only as strong the hope that lives within the diverse factions in it; and the charity that is shown by each faction for the others. If the hope and charity are there, the engagement is there. An engaged society is a healthy society.
Hope is voting, speaking out, engaging in the process, and allowing others to do the same, even if it doesn’t sound good. If someone is protesting, or posting, or voting, they haven’t completely lost hope. That’s good! I saw hope today in each person who was volunteering at the polls today. Black and brown and white they believed that they were making a difference. They chose to be a part of the process.
My goal between now and November is to be better prepared for the election. My goal is to focus more on the local and state contests than I have on the national ones. I want to contribute what I can to make my society better. All that it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing. To withdraw. To wait for the Savior to come and fix it. To isolate ourselves from uncomfortable realities about ourselves, our families, and our communities.
I’m not ready to join the Democratic Party today, but I hope my vote and my small effort mattered. I hope that the party of minorities can take me in, if only for a day; to make a spot for a former Republican who was left behind. I promise to listen better. I promise to withhold judgement and make room for understanding. I promise to take some steps to engage with the people around me to make this world a better place.