Guest opinion: Anxious about the election? Get involved and a make a difference.
Anyone else out there feeling overwhelmed? From breathing in smoke from wildfires exacerbated by climate change, to the struggle for racial equality and justice, to our ever-increasing number of COVID cases — it’s so much. I know many people whose anxiety is through the roof and aren’t sure what to do or how to make a difference.
Like so many of you, I was shaken to the core by the 2016 election. I had temporarily moved to New England from Park City, picking up the pieces of my mom’s life after she dropped dead of a heart attack at age 56. My mom’s lack of access to affordable health care was beyond maddening, and I wondered if she’d still be with us as the light of our family if she’d had reliable health care. The devastating experience of losing my mom coupled with the rise of Donald Trump meant I knew I needed to get involved to fight for health care and so much more. I didn’t yet know how.
In 2017, I had my chance. I donated $25 to my friend Shireen Ghorbani, who had decided to run for Congress in Utah because I thought she was so brave and so fierce (and she is). She had also lost her mom recently and decided to jump into politics to defend and support access to health care. Shireen called me the day I donated and asked me to be her campaign manager.
And the rest unfolded: I upended my life and took a risk to be Shireen’s campaign manager in a heavily gerrymandered district. Every single minute of our 2018 race was worth it even though we lost. Each of the 100,000 doors we knocked on, every phone call, all of the hard work, strategy, laughter, tears and stories we shared with people across the great state of Utah — I would not trade it for anything.
These strong women who are foundational in my life, my mom and Shireen, taught me to stand up for what I believe in. I continue to honor my mom by volunteering for Shireen, who now represents one-third of Utahns on the Salt Lake County Council. She advocates for everyone to have access to affordable health care. I am also involved in politics here in our community, volunteering for the Summit County Democrats and helping out with local campaigns, notably our three amazing women running for state House and Senate: Cheryl Butler, Meaghan Miller and Katy Owens. This year, it is so heartening to see more people getting involved than ever, through donating, putting up their first yard sign, and asking how to take action.
If you’re wondering what the best use of your next 20 days is to relieve your anxiety, I have some suggestions. Make your first phone call or send your first text for a candidate to get out the vote; races are decided right here in our county by under 200 votes, so every phone call matters. Make your first donation to a local campaign or party; even $25 can mean a few more yard signs. Utah’s deadline to register to vote is Oct. 23; text your friends and family and make sure they know they can still register.
Don’t let hopelessness overtake you when there are concrete steps you can take right now. I volunteer every day in politics so that others can have the health care my mom didn’t have. Let’s all work together and wake up Nov. 4 knowing we all did every single thing we could up and down the ballot to love and care for our neighbors and for this country.
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Letters, Jan. 20-22: Don’t lump all transplants to Park City together. Many of us have much to offer.
Mary Kaye Ashkenaze took issue with a letter that condemned transplants from California and the East Coast. “We don’t let our car idle or honk our horn, we pick up after our dog on trails and don’t litter, we try to be helpful and kind to people here, be it on skis, trails or shopping.”