“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words, and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.” – Dorothy Day.
For me these words of Dorothy Day ring so true in this troubled time of Covid 19, mixed with pre election hype, worries and fears. As I write this there are thirty- nine days till Election Day. The current occupant of the White House has said that unless he wins he may not accept the election results. His attempts to discredit mail in balloting are particularly disturbing in this pandemic time. My husband and I do not wish to do in person voting. About a month ago we applied for our mail in ballots. They have now arrived and today we will fill them out and hand deliver them to the drop box in our election district. Within the next week we plan to start participating in one of the political phone banks in our area but if there is none that works with our schedule, we will join the one run by the local Democratic Club in New York City headed up by our oldest son. These electronic times make so many things possible.
Born into a politically concerned family and carrying on the family tradition, I confess to being a political junkie and to always being intensely interested in the national elections and in state contests. When the children were young I joined the League of Women Voters – an activist group which helped me to stay abreast of current political issues and had a not too demanding commitment for a young mother with an expanding family.
I so clearly remember the 1960 election which occurred just a couple of weeks before Jerry and I were married. John Kennedy was a Catholic. I appreciated and supported his liberal views and certainly took pleasure in his Catholicism.
Al Smith, in 1928, was the first Catholic to be nominated for President. My beloved Uncle Jim – Aunt Marg’s husband – was part of the law firm that bore Al Smith’s name. From early on my brothers and I heard of Smith’s qualifications to be President but that he had been denied the honor because of his Catholicism. So it is no wonder that I took pleasure in the nomination of the second Catholic, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I also felt a very remote but personal connection to Kennedy. His daughter Carolyn was born in 1957 at New York Hospital where I was a nursing student. Kennedy became friendly with Monsignor Wilders , the hospital chaplain who later officiated at Jerry’s and my wedding. Monsignor Wilders asked Kennedy if he would speak before the Newman Club – the Catholic club at the medical center for nursing students and medical students. Meeting attendance jumped from about thirty to over two hundred which with very short notice was pretty impressive.
Our daughter Maura was 7 months old and our son Jerry was 22 months old when Kennedy was assassinated. I remember that morning so well – going out to to our mailbox coincidently as the same time as our next door neighbor. She called over to me crying, “Have you heard the news? The President has been shot! ” I was in disbelief and hurried back in to my husband who was working from home that day. We turned on the TV and got the horrible details.
With sadness and determination the country eventually moved on from the death of Kennedy. With the ensuing years there have been many episodes of political unrest not only around the world but in our own country. But never in my memory has the political climate been so worrisome as it is in this election time.
Th United States has always been a beacon of hope, and of possibility and of democracy. We want our children and our nineteen wonderful grandchildren to experience the full possibilities of their country which is now definitely under fire. Can American democeacy survive a White House occupant who seems prepared to do whatever it takes to disregard election results and continue in office? I hope and pray so but it certainly is very scary.
Anyone who is eligible to vote must exercise this important right and obligation that comes with living in our democracy. This is not a special obligation of any particular age group. It is the duty of all who are eligible to vote. I have heard some, whose Democratic candidate was not chosen, say that while they do not want the current president to continue in office they can not bring themselves to vote for the Democratic candidate since he was not their original choice. There is not an option to not vote. The present occupant of the White House must be defeated by a landslide. our democracy is at stake!!!
As Al Smith famously said, “All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy”.