“This Is Ourselves Under Pressure”

“This Is Ourselves Under Pressure”

“This Is Ourselves Under Pressure”

By Jill Caiazzo, Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair

The David Bowie-Queen classic, “Under Pressure,” has wormed its way into my headspace in these final few days of the 2018 election. As earworms go, it’s not half bad. The song is an especially appropriate soundtrack for the feverish get-out-the-vote activities happening all over Arlington right now. Canvassers, phone bankers, text bankers, postcard writers, poll greeters, Metro flyer volunteers and more have all risen to the challenge of this election in incredible numbers and with tremendous enthusiasm. This is ourselves, as volunteers, under pressure -- and our response is inspiring.

The song also provides a framework for expressing my thoughts about the 2018 election. For our country, too, is under pressure. We face real challenges, at home and abroad. Tragically, these challenges are compounded daily by a President who would rather grandstand than govern. He does so with confidence that -- regardless of the wisdom or even truth of his words -- he will have the backing of Republicans in Congress and in state and local governments. Under pressure from President Trump and the radical right which he courts, these so-called leaders have buckled. They enable an extreme Trump-GOP agenda built on lies, fear-mongering, and race-baiting. This agenda has little to do with the basic needs, hopes, and dreams of everyday Americans, who just don’t need the extra pressure created by President Trump.

On November 6, we can alleviate some of that pressure -- and not just by “watching some good friends {in the resistance} screaming ‘let me out’.” Instead, we can vote. For many, only a straight ticket, all-blue vote will be sufficient to relieve the pressure created by the needless cruelty of the Trump-GOP. I am, unsurprisingly, not here to dissuade you. But others -- especially those who historically have identified with a Republican Party that they no longer recognize -- are less comfortable with that approach, even though they see the clear need for a check on Trumpian cruelty.

At the risk of unforgivable hokeyness, I ask those voters to consider this lyrical entreaty from “Under Pressure”: “why can't we give love one more chance?” For I do think that the choices for Arlingtonians in this election come down to one word: Love.

  • In our Senate race, Tim Kaine faces Republican Corey Stewart, who has vowed to conduct “the most vicious, ruthless campaign” in order to become “the president’s number-one partner in the Senate.” Stewart seeks to fan the flames of division, while Kaine strives to achieve a Virginia that works for all. We need Kaine’s solutions-oriented decency now more than ever in the Senate.
  • We likewise need Don Beyer’s continued strong voice in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has been a leader on environmental issues, especially climate change. And he has not hesitated to forcefully (but never rudely) call out the extreme Trump-GOP, including for their heartless attack on medical coverage for pre-existing conditions. He will provide the needed check against Trumpian cruelty.
  • In our most contested race in Arlington, Matt de Ferranti seeks to replace an Independent incumbent on the County Board. Among the many reasons to support Matt’s proactive vision for our community, Matt’s focus on eliminating child hunger in Arlington has risen to the forefront in recent days. His opponent, in contrast, needs “an explanation of why” this problem is such a concern in light of competing policy priorities (including, rightly, senior hunger). The “why” comes down to the single most fundamental issue of our time: how do we solve the dramatic inequities in our society which have driven Trump’s anger-fueled ascendancy? To have any chance of restoring the civility and openness -- the sheer sanity -- of our great country, we must ensure that all of our neighbors feel hopeful about their children’s well-being and future. Nothing is more important to a parent. The reality (and the shame) is that not every child in Arlington can afford to have a shiny purple lunch box, or even a dull brown paper lunch bag. We must make closing the opportunity gap a policy priority, so that we can begin to rebuild the trust in the American Dream that is so critical to achieving all other policy priorities in a collaborative manner. Matt’s heartening focus on equity answers a question which is so essential to the future of our country in this Trump era -- and, yet, it is a question which his opponent apparently does not even understand. Matt is the better choice for our community’s shared prosperity.
  • Barbara Kanninen rounds out the races on the Arlington ballot in her School Board reelection bid. We face difficult school boundary and capacity issues that require equal measures of judgment and heart. Barbara has a proven record of balancing the needs of the whole community, from students and parents to teachers and staff. She has taken tough votes, including on the name change for Washington-Lee High School. She is a leader who understands that we should be teaching our children to honor civil rights heroes, not Civil War traitors. We can trust Barbara to guide our excellent school system with wisdom and empathy.

Love is not “such an old fashioned word” in Arlington that we cannot act upon it at the ballot box, or in our daily lives for that matter. Because, as the song goes, it's true: “love dares you to change our way” -- and that is precisely what we must do at this pivotal moment for our divided country.

This is ourselves, as citizens, under pressure. Be daring. Show the world, our children, and ourselves what we're made of on Election Day, and beyond.

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