Tag Archives: Election

Elizabeth Banks and the Value of the ‘I Voted’ Sticker

Elizabeth Banks and the Value of the 'I Voted" Sticker

With just four days left in the presidential race, most of us are breathing a sigh of relief. Like many of you, my emotions have run amok.

But one of the highlights this fall was the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Banks stumping for Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. She is warm, down-to-earth and passionate. She sat down with me and a small group of supporters to talk about the election


Elizabeth Banks takes nothing for granted in this election, and that is why she has been a presence on the campaign trail.

The actress, director and producer, known for her many role in movies such as The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect, and Spider-Man, is walking the walk for her candidate of choice, Hillary Clinton.

She is also the mom of two boys, and joked that Back-to-School Nights at her sons’ school had cut into her busy schedule.

“The reason I’m doing this (campaigning) is because it matters. And as Hillary supporters,” she said looking around the room, “what you are doing matters. We’re all here for the same reason. We want Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States.”

Banks described the first time she met Hilary Clinton. It was a wow.

“It was 1992 and I was a freshman at Penn (University of Pennsylvania),” she said. “I attended a rally for Bill Clinton, but what I remember most was being transfixed by Hillary.

“As an eighteen year-old, a young woman who was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do and how to be a leader and who my role models should be, I was just completely struck by her.

“I knew then that she would change the face of what a First Lady was. There was a real partnership with her husband, and she had the brains to make a contribution. She was going to make a real difference.”

Fast forward to 2008. “My husband (sportswriter and producer Max Handelman) – he’s big into politics as well, and he was really excited about this young upstart named Barack Obama and I was like, but what about Hillary?”

Now it is Hillary’s time, she said.

“The founding fathers had long discussions about what they wanted this country to be,” she said. “After a great deal of thought, they decided on the number one ideal. It wasn’t the pursuit of happiness. It wasn’t freedom. The number one ideal was equality.”

She added, “It’s taken a long time, but we’ve been getting closer and closer to equality. When I think about equality, I think about women’s suffrage. Women fought to vote, and after 150 years that happened.

“We’ve had the civil rights movement, and the LGBGT movement, and we’re making progress. Hillary Clinton is the next step in reaching that ideal of equality.

“Weren’t we all told as little girls we could be anything? You can dream big. The world is open to you. Be what you want to be. The world is open to you.“

But until now, the prospect of a female president did not seem attainable.

“I have kids now, I know how it is,” she said. No one ‘has it all.’ If you’re doing one thing you can’t be doing another. You miss the kids’ things, you have to go to work. Well, that’s how we do it.

“Hillary Clinton knows this better than anyone. She’s worked hard, with over 40 years of public service. What her critics like to say is ‘she’s very inside Washington. We need someone from the outside.’ Well, how more outside can you get? She’s a female! No other woman has ever done this. And by the way, I don’t think of her as inside. I think of that as experience. She’s so qualified, so amazing.

“We are at a crossroads. We are looking in the mirror as a nation and we are either going to take keep choosing progress toward our idea of equality or we are going to take a massive step backward.”

For anyone thinking about sitting out the election, she said, this is the time to exercise your right to vote.

“I remember going to vote for Obama and getting the “I Voted” sticker, and I was so proud of that,” she said. “Because it was so historic, and it was amazing to be a part of that.

“For young people especially, it is so important to get out and vote. You’ll be really disappointed in yourself if you don’t get the “I Voted” sticker when we elect the first female president.”

Banks said that she would be out campaigning no matter what.

“I am a politically active person from growing up with parents who had us sit around the table and read the paper and get involved in politics. So this is in my blood. What I love about my position is that it affords me a voice. I really understand the voiceless — people who need politics and policy to help their lives. I’m here because I think it really matters who is in charge.

“If my celebrity gives me the platform for my voice to be heard a little bit louder, I’ll take it. I love this country and I want what’s best for it.

Elizabeth Banks and the Value of the 'I Voted' Sticker

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The Democratic National Convention I Will Never Forget

The Democratic National Convention I Will Never Forget

This week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton is making history by shattering the glass ceiling. Along with millions of other Americans, I am watching the convention every night.

This week I am also remembering a DNC a long, long time ago.

The Democratic National Convention

The year was 1968. My days were languid and lazy, as self-indulgent as a 15 year-old’s summer can be. I would sleep until mid-morning, yawn through a bowl of cereal, and get into my bathing suit and flip flops in preparation for the day’s activity: meeting up with my friends at the community swimming pool.

Slathering baby oil on each other’s backs, we baked for hours with intermittent conversation and the crackle of transistor radios in our ears. Sooner or later we would amble over to the concession stand to buy a frozen Snicker’s bar or a bag of chips, flirting with the cute lifeguards as we flounced by.

One day I lay on my beach towel, unable to find a comfortable position. Every muscle ached and my throat was sore. “Walk on my back,” I implored the friend lying next to me. It felt good, like a deep tissue massage. But the relief was temporary.

By the next day I was headachy and running a fever and my mother took me to the doctor. The diagnosis was mononucleosis, and the doctor’s orders were to stay in bed.

Stay in bed? But, summer! Friends! My tan! The fun would go on without me! I cried tears of self-pity.

Every week the doctor made a house call – imagine that – to draw blood. If the blood count remained elevated, I was doomed to another week at home missing my friends. I held my breath each time the telephone call came with the results, but week after week there was no change.

I begged my mother to drive me to the pool where I could at least wave to my friends from behind the rolled up car window. She wasn’t crazy about that idea, and I didn’t push it. I was truly too exhausted to get out of bed. I had little patience for reading; even flipping through issues of Teen and Tiger Beat wore me out.

We had a small black and white TV that I was allowed to have in my room because I was sick. With the antennae adjusted just right, we were able to get three channels. Day after day I watched game shows and General Hospital.

The end of August arrived and the daytime shows were pre-empted for the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.The tension leading up to the convention had been palpable. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy just months before, the mounting anti-war fever, cities set afire and burning … there was an electricity coursing through the nation.

I watched the Democratic National Convention every day. Some of the images became indelibly imprinted on my brain. The shouting matches on the floor between delegates and party leaders. The violence that erupted outside, the police clubbing protesters, the tear gas canisters hurled into the crowd. It was terrifying.

The Yippies, the hippies. Dan Rather getting roughed up on the convention floor. Eugene McCarthy, the anti-war candidate, failing to garner enough support. A young Julian Bond who, upon being nominated, withdrawing his name from contention because he was not old enough to run.

Hubert Humphrey, the party’s nominee, would lose the election to Richard Nixon, who branded himself the law and order candidate.

Sound familiar?

Glued to the TV, I was both fascinated and repulsed. It was a history lesson in real time. The year 1968, proved to be one of the most tumultuous years in our history, and the Democratic National Convention unlike any before or since.

This week there have been protests, but no violence. I hope that this convention will be remembered for Hillary Clinton’s nomination, with shards of glass exploding only metaphorically.

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Election Day Diary

Election Day Diary

Election Day 2015

… is now history. The votes are counted, the people have spoken, and some are waking up happy this morning, others not so much..

Election Day 2015 in my neighborhood was a sunny and unseasonably warm day for November, a good omen, I thought as I got in my car to go volunteer at our polling place. I tend to look for signs when I want things to go a certain way, reading way too much into a random occurrence like weather, “making something of nothing,” as they used to say.

Nonetheless, I interpreted the sunshine to mean metaphorical sunny skies for my candidate of choice,  who was not only supremely worthy of the office, but also a very good friend. When he asked me to help out at the polls on Election Day, of course I said yes.

Election Day 2015 turned out to be a pleasant day, weather-wise.

But I had misinterpreted the sunny skies. Turns out they were meant not for my friend, but my friend’s opponent.

My friend lost his race. It was a close one, but he lost.

The turnout was decent for an off year election, I was told by the regulars working there. Voters streamed in pretty constantly throughout the day, some pausing to chat with us volunteers or accept the proffered campaign literature or one of the home baked cookies arranged on a tray. Other voters eschewed the pleasantries, marching purposefully, eyes focused ahead, and ignored the friendly overtures from us. Yes, there were a few who were overheard muttering under their breath about a certain candidate or political party, but they were few and far between, I am happy to report.

From my perch at the polling place I ran into people I hadn’t seen in years: the parents of one of my daughter’s high school friends; the hairdresser I had abandoned after more than a decade for another stylist five years ago; the neighbor whose dog menaced our dog but sadly had passed away recently (the dog, not the neighbor); a former friend with whom I had had a falling out ten years ago; the cantankerous and hostile old man with a reputation for creating trouble at the polling place, who used to take walks on our street with his cane and once swatted my husband’s car with it; the neighbors on my block who I had hoped would show up; and an old friend who recently moved from an adjoining community to ours, unbeknownst to me until I saw him yesterday.

When I wasn’t greeting voters at the door, I helped out at the registration table along with two other women. One I knew casually; the other I hadn’t met before. During intermittent slow spells we got to know each other. The woman on my left was an interior decorator going through a divorce and moving to San Francisco. The woman on my right was a physician whose husband was working as the judge of elections at our poll.

Though we did not share affiliation with the same party, we did not let politics polarize us as we got into an efficient rhythm of greeting, looking up names, assigning a number, and directing voters to the booths. By the end of the day we felt like old friends.

My husband arrived after work to vote, and the physician’s eyes widened when he walked in the room. She and her husband looked at each other in surprise. “That’s your husband?” she asked me. “The runner?”

Her husband told me, “I see him every day at 7:05 a.m. at the corner of Ithan and Morris. Like clockwork.”

Yes, that’s my husband. The man who runs six miles every morning, 365 days a year, known in the neighborhood as That Guy Who Runs Every Day.

I hadn’t planned on staying until the bitter end, but I couldn’t leave. I felt so invested. At 8 p.m. the voting machines were turned off, the door was locked and the few of us remaining were allowed to help with the final count. As the outcome for my friend became clear, some of us grew quiet.

My friend was gracious in defeat, immediately calling his opponent to congratulate her. While some of us just stood around with downcast eyes, he cracked jokes and forced us to smile.

He stayed classy. I hope someday he will run for office again.

The physician must have read the disappointment in my eyes because she came over to me.

Grasping my hands, she said that both candidates had run great campaigns and either one would have been an asset to our community. She said she hoped we would work together again. I said I would very much like that.

Before I left, I hugged my friend and whispered, “I will never stop believing in you.”

And then I drove home.

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Wordless Wednesday: Did You Vote on Election Day?

cast a vote on Election Day

A friend asked if I could volunteer a few hours at our polling place yesterday, and I was happy to oblige. It was not a big Election Day in my area — there was neither a gubernatorial race nor hotly contested campaigns — so turnout was light. By the time I left, around 1 p.m., only 100 citizens had cast their vote.

Do you vote in “off” years?

cast a vote on Election Day

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