The People Have Spoken

The People Have Spoken

The polling place at Empire State College, Westfall Road. 6:03 a.m. [Photo: David Kramer, 11/03/20] See At Empire State College, I voted for “?”

by George Cassidy Payne

The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.

– John Lewis

He tried hate speech and voter intimidation. He endorsed gerrymandering and photo ID laws. He declared the election illegal before the first votes were counted and said he was uncertain about a peaceful transfer of power. In every way that he could think of, President Trump has tried to dismantle faith in the American institution of free elections. He has personally assaulted our trust in the process.

(left) Voters lined up outside Carmen Clark Lodge in Brighton Town Park, Westfall Road, 5:57 a.m. (right) Empire State College, Westfall Road. 6:03 a.m. [Photos: David Kramer, 11/03/20] See Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite on Election Day and the day after

But it has all failed. Somehow, the one institution that will have benefited most from the last four years of Trump’s governance is the relevance and nonviolent power of the ballot. The right for Americans to be represented, heard and listened to with respect. The very foundation of American democracy is the act of voting. It is a simple yet profound gesture of civilian agency and responsibility. For all of Trump’s attempts to undermine the American system of free and fair elections, he failed to dampen the spirit of this nation when it counted the most. Through all of the insults, veiled and not so veiled threats, lies, and conspiracies, in the end, it will have been the voters who decided. We had the last word.

Mt. Hope Cemetery, 11/03/20. (left) Olivia Kim’s statue of Frederick Douglass with ribbon celebrating the 100th anniversary of national women’s suffrage; (right) Members of Election Day 2020 NYS, a documentary seeking to connect the historical impacts women have made in political movements to those of today, interviewing mother and daughter. [Photos: David Kramer, 11/03/20] Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite on Election Day and the day after

You have to go back to 1968 when the country exceeded 60% voter turnout. The last six elections saw numbers drop below 50% in 1996, and only rise as high as 57.1% with the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008.

(For historical comparison, in 1860, Americans went to the polls in astronomically high numbers (81.2%) and exceeded 70% in 13 of 14 elections from 1840-1896.)¹

Although we may never see that rate of turn out again, this election is about the strength and resilience of American democracy. Trump tried his best to make this election about himself. But it is not about him at all; it is about the sacred ideals of our Constitution. The people have spoken, and they want to be heard. That is the winner. Biden and Trump and every other politician running for office is a mere servant to that Truth.

Mt. Hope Cemetery, 11/03/20 at the gravesite of Susan B. Anthony. (left) Bryan and Samra Brouk. Samra is running for State Senate in the 55th district; (right) Placing an “I Voted Sticker” on Anthony’s grave. [Photos: David Kramer, 11/03/20]See Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite on Election Day and the day after


Voter turnout in the United States presidential elections

U.S. presidential election popular vote totals as a percentage of the total U.S. population. Note the surge in 1828 (extension of suffrage to non-property-owning white men), the drop from 1890–1910 (when Southern states disenfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites), and another surge in 1920 (extension of suffrage to women). This chart represents the number of votes cast as a percentage of the total population, and does not compare either of those quantities with the percentage of the population that was eligible to vote. (wikipedia)


The “Stolen” Election of 2020: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. (Karl Marx)

At Empire State College, I voted for “?”

Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite on Election Day and the day after

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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