Post Election Thoughts

When Does Activism Start: Part Two

By Julie Freestone

I’ve learned after years of staying up late to watch the election returns that I should go to bed by nine p.m. Nothing much happens here on the West Coast after that and I can read about it in the morning. Or a week later. And sometimes it’s even longer.

Whenever I find out the results, there’s almost always something gratifying to celebrate. A proposition that I liked that passed. A local candidate I admire who won. And sometimes there’s heartbreak. I won’t go into how Donald Trump ruined by 72nd birthday (November 9 two years ago). And how many times the day after election night that I looked for places to migrate to. I have to admit that I often come away from Election Day with sadness, saying, “wait until next year,” or something like that.

For many of us who choose to get actively involved in some way — from door knocking, to voting, donating money, phone banking, mailing post cards or even just talking to friends, the rest of my blog might be inspiring.

It’s Lizzy again

Lizzy Peck wears a political-themed shirt to school each day

I introduced you to Lizzy Claire Peck in August last year. She lives in rural Nevada. She went to Washington, D.C. for the first time last summer and met her Congressman and her Senator. She talked about the environment, clean air and clean water. This year, for the first time, she went around her neighborhood, knocking on doors of people she knew and some she hadn’t met before. She asked people to vote for the environment. Mostly she got a stunned reaction.

Did I mention that she’s only 11 years old?

“My binder had stickers and one said I’m not 16, I’m 11. I think it stopped them …they thought I was older. They said they couldn’t believe I was going around and doing this.”

A simple message

Lizzy had a simple message: “I tried to tell them: yes on 6 (requiring electric providers to reach 50% renewable energy by 2030; no on 3 (deregulating the power industry), probably no on (Senator) Dean Heller.”

She acknowledges that her community is “Dean Heller country” and that when she went trick or treating a few weeks ago, she tried to avoid houses with Heller lawn signs.

The day she was door knocking, she said she got a couple of “hard core Republicans” who were nevertheless “in shock” because she was approaching them. She wasn’t able to do much more than her immediate neighborhood. “It was after school …I didn’t have a lot of time…my piano lesson was that day.”

Tuesday night she stayed up to watch the election returns. “I was on the edge of my seat, hoping all of my candidates would win but thinking it was an unrealistic goal.” (Honestly, she did say that)

Lizzy got a reward many of us don’t. Proposition 3 went down to defeat. Proposition 6 passed. Senator Dean Heller, a Trump backer, lost to the Democrat Jacky Rosen. And the Democrats took back the House of Representatives.

“I was really excited, “said Lizzy. “I was watching the House, the Senate and the State. “We gained 20 house seats, it’s incredible, we got Jacky. I was kind of worried. I’ve seen so many Dean Heller signs. I was so excited that Jacky Rosen won. I’ve met her a couple of times. She’s one of my biggest role models. She’s going on my Women’s March poster this year.”

I asked Lizzy if she had a take away message. She said, “It was a great experience and it didn’t happen just because of luck.” She understands that hard work went into the victories.

But she’s worried too. She went to a meeting recently and realized that except for herself and few other younger people, most of the others looked like me and her grandmother. “No offense,” she said, “But they were old and in a few years, they’ll be gone.” (She apologized again)

Her message: “If we don’t keep this up and get the millennials out to vote, this isn’t going to work. I’m the next generation.” She’s already prepping for the next Presidential election. Probably her piano lesson won’t interfere. By then, after all, she’ll be 13 years old.

Julie Freestone is a former reporter and the co-author of Stumbling Stone, a novel about a young German who defied the Nazis.