Down Route 66: Down to the wire

Tom Wray Editor, Illinois Eagle

If you’re reading this and haven’t voted, Do it now.

I mean it. Right now.

It is too late to mail in your ballot. Go to an early polling location. Or if you do have your mail-in ballot, fill it out, put it in the correct envelopes and take it to your local drop-off point. In most counties this will be the county clerk’s office but check your own county’s site to confirm.

Get in the car, on bike or bus or just walk, but get that vote in.

If there was ever a time for your vote to count, it’s now. Even though Illinois is sure to go for Biden/Harris, there are still downticket races. Cheri Bustos is in a tight race for re-election in her northern Illinois district. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan is in a tight race against a Trump ally in central Illinois. Plus all the local county and city races across the state. We need to vote in every election and ballot measure.

Just watching the news can be scary these days. Every day there is another wild statement from the GOP or another incident over the election.

It’s gonna be tough, no matter who wins nationally. Especially those of us who don’t live in the urban cores like Chicago. We’re basically on the frontlines. Just this past Saturday I saw an honest-to-god QAnon bumper sticker just driving home from Walmart. If we don’t live in Republican areas, then we live in small blue or purple cities. We don’t have that wall of surburbia.

I am scared of what it will be like on Nov. 4. It was bad enough in 2016. Chicago felt depressed. You could feel it walking down the street. It wasn’t long before protests became a regular occurrence. Generally pretty peaceful if loud, because there were all that many counterprotesters coming out. I’m not sure that’ll be true this time. If Biden wins, I honestly worry about what the right will do. They’ve already shown willing shoot at protesters, threaten and destroy property. What will they do when they’ve actually lost? And if Trump wins, I know we will protest. I expect the right to be there as well as they have been all summer.

I’m relatively confident that Biden/Harris will win. But I felt the same way about Hillary in 2016, so I’m not relying on it. I don’t like feeling like this. Dealing with the pandemic is bad enough, but also worrying about political violence just adds another level. I remember the George W. Bush years. I hated him. I even looked up moving to Canada. But as bad as he was (he was really bad, just saying), I never felt like the fate of the country hung in the balance.

We have a president who couldn’t say “I condemn white supremacy” when asked point blank. We have hate crimes against everyone, Black people, LGBTQ people, Jewish people, Muslims, Asians, etc., spiking in the past year. There’s even been a few instances of people pulling guns out to defend BLM protesters or firing guns above the heads of Trump supporters. It worries me.

All we can do is get through it. Hopefully, all the worry about next Tuesday is just that, worry. Vote. And stay safe.

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