I don’t have to tell anyone that 2020 has presented each one of us with some of the greatest challenges we’ve ever known. From the personal, professional, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to the senseless police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and other Black and Brown citizens that inspired a wave of protests around the country, this year has been unlike any other.
On November 3, we have an opportunity to make real change. But it’s more than an opportunity, it’s an obligation.
I’ve voted in every single election since I turned 18. I remember being so excited to be able to cast my first ballot. Even though it wasn’t a presidential election year, I relished the chance to finally go to my polling place in the church basement in Ann Arbor to participate alongside my neighbors in our Democratic process. It was an incredible feeling of community and duty, and all these years later I’m still filled with pride each time I vote.
This year, casting my ballot is more important than ever. It’s about more than feeling pride. You only have to watch the evening news to know I’m not exaggerating when I say that the stakes have never been higher.
We must decide whether to reelect President Trump and continue down the dark paths of public health, economic, and racial justice crises we’re currently on, or to begin to heal our wounds and build a better future for every American. I believe we can do that by electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Under Trump, our republic is literally at risk: At this writing, we have lost more than 200,000 Americans; most schools and colleges are unable to re-open fully and many that did have seen dramatic COVID case increases; the economy is in a catastrophic free fall; and we have social unrest in our streets as Trump amplifies racial strife for his personal political gain instead of uniting us as fellow Americans. Now, with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump will remake the high court into the most conservative one in perhaps 100 years, one that will lay devastation to union rights, to mention just one critical area.
Joe Biden has the proven strength, experience, and compassion needed to fix what is broken in our country at this unprecedented time.
Together with a more progressive Senate, Biden will help us overcome this devastating public health crisis, restore our economy, and bring us together us after four long years of turmoil and division. As a longtime advocate for working men and women, Biden will work with us all to achieve common goals. And he is dedicated to supporting public education at all levels, not tearing it down as Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have blatantly (and proudly!) done by trying to stack the deck in favor of private schools and voucher programs.
Perhaps most of all, Joe Biden will return us to the culture of honesty and decency we knew under President Obama. I recall how proud I was of our country when we elected the first Black president that night in 2008. I remember standing in Chicago’s Grant Park that night, with tens of thousands of my fellow citizens, with my nephew who had flown in from Houston to be there in person, as we all shed tears when CNN projected the winner — Barack Obama — and as Barack delivered his inspired speech. It was electric and moving. It was historic. And for the next eight years, I remained proud of our president as I saw our country gain respect around the world under his leadership; as he nominated Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court; as he helped bring health care to millions of Americans.
Don’t we all long for that feeling now?
We need leaders who make us feel proud again. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are those leaders.
This election is just as critical in our states too, including in my home state of Illinois where our future is on the line.
Unlike most states, Illinois’ constitution requires a flat income tax. Over decades, that has led to a massive structural tax deficit that we cannot cut our way out of without devastating education and public services or raising taxes on everyone.
But there is a solution on the Illinois ballot. By voting for a constitutional amendment to allow a graduated income tax, Illinoisans can fix our broken system. Instead of benefitting the rich and harming lower- and middle-income families, a graduated tax — or Fair Tax — will create tax fairness for everyone. It will generate more than $3 billion per year to invest in schools, jobs, health care, and our communities by asking those who can most afford it (because they earn more than $250,000 per year) to pay just a little bit more.
It’s easy to see why I’m voting.
But no matter what state you live in, as an American it’s undeniable that this is the most important election of our lifetimes. It is much more than our right to vote, it’s our responsibility. We have to work like hell starting now to make sure we vote, and make sure all our friends and family do the same to rescue this country from the tyranny and cynicism of Trumpism and its deadly effects. Then we together can create another “Grant Park” moment where we will shed tears of joy at the promise of our nation and a shared feeling of optimism that things will now get better.