Johnathon Strube

Ballots Not Bullets

Co-opting the personal election and candidate promotion model—a call for resolution, attention and action.

As someone who lived through a school shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008—this topic is significant to me. Although, I was not in the room that day, I was in a building just down the road. That day, I experienced the visceral shock that these events have on an institution and a community. As I sat in campus-wide lock-down, I was overcome in knowing that I had attended classes in that very room many times and sat in the same seats as the students that lost their lives.

As I exited the building that day, I saw people running, embracing, hugging and crying. Helicopters hovered overhead and police were patrolling every corner. There were news media vans and probing conversations in all directions. But, amongst all this noise, there was a dull-silence in the air and there was a palpable feeling that things would and could never be the same.

On February 14, 2018, NIU remembered what happened ten years prior. And, on that same day, 17 more young people were killed in a school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. (Among the many others that have happened in 2018)

In the wake of these events, we have seen the future leaders of our country stand up and insist on action from lawmakers. I am inspired by these young people. These events and how we respond to them are a reflection of all of us—our country and our humanity depends on it.

I was driven to contribute my voice… #ballotsnotbullets.

Ballots Not Bullets
Camouflaged in a uplifting facade, a “happy” little reminder that we need to get to the ballots and participate in every election. Not just national elections, but local and off-year elections as well. Change will take place, voices will be heard and leaders with conviction will find a place in government. We can not complain about lack of reform if we are not willing to participate. We can not hope that our leaders will be sensible and do-the-right-thing. We have to vote. We have to put the pressure on. This is the power of democracy—elected leaders are not immune to the will of dedicated and focused citizens.

As citizens, we can not continue to accept behavior from our leaders that we would not accept in our own lives and professions. Our leaders are people that need to be held accountable for their actions. They need to know that we are watching and that we know when they are being negligent. That we know when they are being apathetic. That we know when they are being opportunistic. That we know when they are self-serving. And, above all, that we know when they are lying.

Ready. Aim. Vote!
In the words of our gun-focused friends, let’s target those that need to be removed from office. Do your research and find out who is being backed by the NRA—here’s a start. And, conversely, find out who supports progressive gun law reform. If your representatives do not—take ’em out! If we are not safe in our communities and institutions, the same should be said for their jobs.

The primaries are coming up quickly. Make sure you are prepared to vote. If you don’t know when your primaries are happening—find out here. 2018 is an important year to swing the balance of power in Washington. We can no longer allow Washington to be controlled by special-interest lobbyists upholding rights based on ideological fronts.

Proceeds will be donated to The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Violence Policy Center.

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© Johnathon Strube, 2017.
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