Focus, Activism Needed Now

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On Oct. 15, I asked Joe Biden a question at his Philadelphia town hall about Amy Coney Barrett’s rushed Supreme Court confirmation process and the related concerns of LGBTQ Americans. Last week, Biden announced that he would form a bipartisan commission to study how to reform the court, a good first step in trying to address the issue I raised about the court’s long-term stability and balance.

I’ve served as an intern in the Bush White House speechwriting office and then speechwriter to Bush’s Federal Aviation Administration chief. More recently, I was speechwriter for Obama’s Small Business Administration and Commerce Department heads. Biden’s approach should be something that reasonable Republicans and Democrats can get behind.

There are other things we can agree on, too, particularly when it comes to the election itself.

First, we can agree that voters should be protected. For me, this has meant volunteering outside satellite voting offices here in Philadelphia to make sure voters experience a smooth voting process. I don’t ask people who they’re voting for. After all, our nation’s founders would roll over in their graves if any kind of voter intimidation happens in the birthplace of our democracy.

Second, we have to make sure voters know about new options they might have to vote. We’re on the right track with record numbers of voters nationwide having chosen the easy and convenient option of voting early in person or by mail. In Pennsylvania, right now, we must continue to inform voters about dropping off their — twice-enveloped — mail-in ballots so we’re not clogging up the lines on Election Day for the elderly and others. It has also been great to see efforts like Pride at the Polls that are helping communities take advantage of early voting options in a fun, community-oriented way.

Americans of all political stripes should be able to wholeheartedly support and participate in these simple efforts to strengthen our democratic process. 

But yes, in addition to nonpartisan efforts, some of us are using our time and privilege to volunteer — or even take leave from work — because we believe strongly that this country needs new leadership right now. 

That means volunteering to help with textbanking, phone banking, or canvassing. It means working as poll observers on Election Day. It also means making plans to peacefully demonstrate through efforts like Protect the Results if Trump preemptively declares victory in Pennsylvania even if we haven’t counted hundreds of thousands of votes.

We’re also preparing for decisions that could be made after the election. That means speaking up if the Supreme Court, for example, undermines our election, takes healthcare away from millions of Americans or — as a Philadelphia-based case will determine — discriminates against LGBTQ foster parents and families.

Overall, now’s the time for every American to stand up for democracy and for our values. Given our recent fights and victories, LGTBQ Americans are well-equipped to show the bravery and focus required to do just that before, on, and after Nov. 3.

Let’s get past the name calling and fear mongering, and, instead, let’s take action now to ensure that the next four years are brighter for our friends, families, and communities. 

Nate Osburn is a communications professional with experience in government, academia, nonprofits, and the private sector. He lives in Philadelphia.