Image: Rabbi Suzanne Singer and I took a very awkward selfie while we watched over the polling place for Election Protection. 11/8/2016
I was all set to write an elegiac post about my day working at the polls in Georgia. I spent the day sitting in parking lots, 150 feet from polling places, smiling and watching for people who were distressed. My first shift was at a place where things ran properly and there wasn’t a lot to do (which is the best possible scenario.) At the second place, in the evening, I was helping at a poll where there were some small issues, but everything was resolved. There was beauty in the sight on so many people, rich and poor, brown and white, educated and not, each completely equal in that moment of casting their vote.
I met some wonderful people: pastors in Macon, folks who drove down from Atlanta to help, rabbis from all over the country. I forgot to bring business cards, so we exchanged emails so that we could stay in touch.
Then I drove off, to this hotel just south of Atlanta, because I have an early flight. I watched the election returns in this hotel room.
I spent the day with one America: a diverse group of people who banded together to protect the rights of citizens. I’m a lesbian, a Jew, a rabbi, a woman, and I’m white. I chatted over lunch with a white Christian pastor and an African American Christian pastor, and we made friends. We don’t agree about everything (we found a few of those things while we were chatting) but we can work together despite the differences.
Then tonight I saw another America: an America that chose to elect a man for President who talks about rounding up Muslims, who has been endorsed by the KKK, who has breathed new life into white supremacist organizations. He gave speeches in which he dog-whistled anti-Semitic tropes. I don’t think he actually believes many of the horrible things he said to get elected, but he appealed to the lowest impulses of my fellow citizens and they chose him.
I commit to reaching out: reaching out to all the people I know who will be panicked about this election. I’ve already sent notes to Muslim friends, to some transgender friends, to others I know who are feeling vulnerable. I don’t know exactly what lies ahead, but I know that we will need one another.
4 thoughts on “Two Rabbis in a Parking Lot”
“I don’t think he actually believes many of the horrible things he said to get elected…”
But he said them. Over and over. And many of his supporters said worse, and he didn’t bat an eyelash. He sought them out to run his campaign. I am a middle-class straight white woman and I’m thoroughly frightened by what lies ahead; I can’t imagine how terrible my friends in more vulnerable groups must be feeling. My LGBT friends’ marriages, my daughter’s generation’s reproductive rights, my fellow union members’ hard-won rights and protections, all of these could disappear. I don’t even know where to start.
Disbelief and shock are wearing off. Tears are setting in.
Thank you for being a voice of compassion in a country that has chosen a president elect who is incapable of such feeling. Your dedication makes us all better for the positive energy you put forth.
Thank you for reading, and for the kind words, Barb. I live in hope that Americans will rise to the challenges of the next four years.