Kueppers: Give a damn this election.

It’s cool to mail it in this election, but don’t phone it in.

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Henry Kueppers

Voting is not enough anymore. After four years of a turbulent, unpredictable and disgraceful administration, this election could mean everything. Our backdrop is a world that resembles that of a dumpster fire in California: a real hot mess. COVID-19 continues to spread, California burns and racial injustices are commonplace across our nation. This election comes to us on the brink of utter global chaos and calamity. I struggle to think of a better way to frame this in order to describe the desperate urgency I’m feeling. Yet, there are people out there who still can’t grasp this. I mean, help me out a little bit, guys! The picture of a world on the precipice of an apocalyptic nightmare isn’t enough to make you want to take action? Fine. Imagine then, if you don’t take this election seriously, they’re going to discontinue Oreos. Ah! Now you’re paying attention. I implore readers to picture an incentive, real or not (like the state of our world or a popular cookie brand) and really think about consequences because the point I’m trying to make is simple: No matter what your political beliefs or how you view the world, this election is absolutely going to impact every single one of us. That is our call to action.

While I hope you are fighting for justice and equality and not a Double Stuf Oreo, in the end I guess I’m just happy you’re deciding to take this election seriously. You’ll recall I told you that voting will not be enough this election. Obviously, voting is without a doubt the most critical and crucial task you’ll complete during the election, but if we want to make substantial changes, you’re going to have to dig deeper. So, let me tell you why voting will not be enough and what other actions need to be taken.

With COVID-19 running rampant thanks to the ignorance of our president and his administration, thousands of Americans are trapped … literally. The immununo-compromised can barely make it to the grocery store without risking life and limb. This is coupled with the imminent threat of voter suppression, which, according to the American Bar Association, affects out-of-state students and lower-income communities much more than other groups. And just because Uncle Sam loves to rub salt in the wound, remember that COVID-19 is vastly more detrimental to communities of color than white communities.

Speaking of voter suppression, yeah! That’s still a thing! State legislatures are continuing to vote in favor of voter ID laws, voter registration restrictions and voter purges (I’m exhausted just thinking about it, but my friends at the American Civil Liberties Union will explain it far better than I ever could).

And this wouldn’t be a column about an American election if we didn’t touch on foreign hackers. As reported by Microsoft in early September, Russia is not the only country threatening our free-and-fair election. China and Iran have also decided to join the party. While the federal government has so far boasted zero successful digital breaches, Microsoft reported that there has been an increase in attempts to hack email servers and websites of both Democrats and Republicans. Considering the affects foreign collusion had on our last presidential election (Robbie Mueller proved it, don’t bother trying to deny it) this is not something to take lightly. I guess our one silver lining in this paragraph is at least hackers are choosing to be non-partisan.

Folks, we’re upstream without a paddle this election. Hell, that’s being optimistic. We’re upstream on a flimsy piece of cardboard, in water surrounded by piranhas with nothing but overdue Netflix bills in our pockets. Yet, we are still alive. Gosh darnit, call me Elton John because I’m Still Standing, and you are too. I write this article on the eve of the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (may peace be upon her). Many are feeling lost and hopeless without her, myself included. It seems wrong, though, not to continue the fight she led on that bench. That’s why I’m not giving up until the fat lady (aka Mike Pence) sings. In addition to voting on Nov. 3, here is something every one of us can do:

Donate: Everyone’s situation is different, so obviously finance your basic human needs first. However, if you find yourself with some spare change, think about donating it to organizations or state representatives (not just from Minnesota) who support your ideals. Here are a few I suggest: League of Women Voters, the Minnesota chapter of the ACLU and Election Protection.
Call voters: Organizations such as Rock the Vote and Protect the Vote are always looking for volunteers to spread awareness on voting and voting rights. The best part is, you can volunteer digitally by placing phone calls or sending texts to voters. The future is here!
Write letters: Okay, I know I just said the future is here, but the power of letters (while appearing, albeit, antiquated) can never be underestimated. Right now, there are voters in Super States who are not sure which way they are going to vote. An impassioned letter imploring them to think hard and vote for the right candidate can make all the difference.
Talk to your family: I don’t care if you feel uncomfortable around your bigot of an uncle or your confused grandparents: The time is now to educate and convince them to vote. In 2016, 58.1% of eligible voters went to the polls. What a joke! Lady Liberty gave us a fat F, and unless we want to fail again, we need to work to build up our voter turnout rates.

This is not a definitive list by any means, but it is a starting point. I encourage you to explore these and more options this election season. But let me make one thing absolutely clear: This is it. You have to choose what side of history you want to be on. Will you embrace the legacy of RBG and your civic duties by voting? Or, will you be complacent in what could be the final blow to our democracy?