I was all prepared to not write anything about Election Day until tonight. And then my oldest, as she is wont to do, spoke up.
“Election Day shouldn’t be this stressful for a 13-year-old who can’t vote.”
She dropped that on me last night and it left me a little speechless. We were in the middle of discussing what could happen nationally, the myriad of possibilities without getting too deep in the weeds which is easy for me to do – I love this night. And of course, she’s right. But it feels like the stakes have never been higher.
These past 10 days have felt like a month. This week has been exhausting and it’s barely Tuesday. With the never-ending advertising of political campaigns (I’m tired of hearing from the candidates I voted for), to the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, it’s been a drain. And that’s just the road to Election Day.
Normally I vote on Election Day, but decided to save myself one stressor and vote early. But as stressful as this is for the engaged 13-year-old who can’t vote it, it’s just as much for the adults.
With so much angst this year after the 2016 election, I wanted to get more involved with candidates or causes, but I knew that ethically I couldn’t do that. That’s the problem with being a journalist who is also engaged politically; separating how I feel about a race or candidate and my job isn’t possible. I don’t get the luxury of acting as a private citizen who door-knocks or phone banks while also going to Election Night events as a journalist writing about wins and losses of Jewish candidates for tomorrow morning.
As uncomfortable and exhausting as the election has been, it’s impossible for anyone to sit out. Especially as a Jew. Anti-Semitic incidents have increased over the past year, and in the past week alone, swastikas have been spray painted on homes, synagogues defaced, and of course, having 11 people murdered by a white supremacist in their shul on Shabbat.
Rabbi Michael Latz wrote last week that: “The Talmudic rabbis teach that we must never place a leader in the community without the community having a say. We take that to heart. We Jews know from our history the consequences of not having a vote, of not being able to lift up our voices in the public square without fear of reprisal or violence.”
Sadly, being Jewish has led to reprisal and violence in this election cycle. Hopefully, when the results roll in tonight, it will mean a less stressful and safer place for those of us who have felt targeted for our Judaism.