Relatively speaking, the United States is a young nation and these last few months have been an important reminder that we’re still evolving. The COVID-19 pandemic is spiraling out of control, and yet at the same time, it has allowed us an opportunity to focus our eyes on some of the essential ingredients of a true democracy: thoughtful decisionmaking informed by facts and science, relentless protection and promotion of the right right to vote, and strong social safety nets to ensure everyone has a real chance to achieve a healthy life, liberty, and happiness.
Growing up in the United States, I was taught that July 4 is Independence Day. But this year, the Movement for Black Lives has made me see this holiday in a new light. All people are created equal, and they are endowed with “certain unalienable rights,” including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet because of structural racism that we as a society have failed to address, these rights have been and continue to be denied to Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people in the United States.
Adhering to the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence means holding ourselves, our lawmakers, and our systems accountable to achieving justice for all. Our perfect union is imperfect. Institutionalized racism dictates who receives justice and who does not, and despite our country’s racial and cultural diversity we have yet to grant equal representation and rights to all residents.
This Independence Day, I hope you will do three things to make our nation a more inclusive, democratic, and fair place. It will only take 15 minutes to:
- Complete the Census
Census totals help determine the amount of funding that state governments and local communities receive from the federal government for the next decade. You can learn more about the Census here.
- Register to Vote or Update Your Registration
The deadline to register before the Aug. 18 primary election is July 20. Don’t wait to register if you haven’t already! If you’ve recently moved or want to change your party affiliation, update your registration. Check your status and register at www.FLVoterInfo.org
- Request your Vote-By-Mail Ballot
Voting by mail is a safe, secure, and easy option for all Florida voters. With COVID-19 cases still at peak levels, it’s more important than ever to have a plan to vote and make sure your voice is heard. Voting by mail ensures you don’t have to choose between your right to vote and keeping yourself, your community, our healthcare workers, and first responders safe. Request your ballot by Aug. 8 to vote in the primary election.
Our democracy isn’t perfect – but it stems from the belief that everyone has a voice and that government is ruled by the people, for the people. Our duty as Americans is to actualize our ideal democracy. Our duty is to complete our Census, vote, and hold our lawmakers accountable for their policy decisions. Do your part today, and share these resources with your friends, family, neighbors, and fellow Conservation Voters.