by Rabbi Nancy Kasten
October is here, and that means November 8 will be here before we know it. To “bring faith to life,” as we say at Faith Commons, especially to bring our faith to the public square for the common good in these midterm elections is vitally important; but it is not necessarily easy.
On Sunday October 23 at 4 p.m. we will be screening the documentary film “Boycott” in partnership with the SMU Dedman School of Law’s First Amendment Clinic. The film examines the impact of state legislation designed to penalize individuals and companies that choose to boycott Israel. It follows three plaintiffs—one in Texas, one in Arkansas, and one in Arizona—whose First Amendment rights were impacted by this legislation.
Anti-boycott laws, like book bans, aim to suppress certain ideas and narratives deemed too dangerous or threatening to be explored. They prevent citizens from advocating for themselves in a non-violent way which, up until recently, has been protected by the First Amendment.
The upcoming election is in part a referendum on how our state and our country will respond to America’s increasing diversity. We should not expect to feel comfortable when the exercise of free speech surfaces something that we find offensive or even threatening. But we need to be able to differentiate between what is offensive and what is a lie, and resist the urge to outlaw viewpoints, lifestyles, or choices, even when they make us squirm.
We at Faith Commons want to help you feel prepared and empowered to identify what is important to you in these elections, and to take whatever role you can to stand up for what you believe to be most sacred.
The amount of information about the election is overwhelming. Even people who take voting seriously may feel they don’t know enough to get involved. But if you care about losing access to reproductive health care, or experiencing a shooting in your house of worship (or the mall or a school), or book bans and the whitewashing of U.S. history, or protecting free and fair elections, you know enough to make a difference.
We are grateful to Texas Impact for creating this amazing tool which provides all the information you need to vote. Sign up and you will get everything you need for every step of the way in this election season.
A few reminders:
1. Make sure you are registered to vote. Even if you think you are registered, check your registration. The deadline to register in Texas is Tuesday, October 11.
2. Remind everyone in your networks to check their registration and, if they are not registered, to register. Personal texts and emails from you will be much more effective than social media outreach, although you can do both.
3. Make a plan to vote. It will be much easier for you, for election workers, and for the elections department if you vote early. So, if you can, please vote early. Early voting begins October 24.
4. Check out your ballot and think through whom and what you want to vote for. Keep in mind that abstaining is also a vote. You can find voting records for incumbents here. Even if you have not heard of someone, or you have a negative association with a candidate, ask yourself these questions:
- Which candidate will protect and defend the freedoms I most care about? Have any of them undermined those freedoms already?
- Has this candidate undermined free and fair elections, either by making voting harder or by refusing to certify an election? If they haven’t already done so, would they?
- Which candidate would help protect the people I most care about, now and in the future?
5. And please spread the word! Share this call to action with at least 5 people and ask them to do the same. The ripple effect can change our future for the better. Be a part of it!
Get your personalized sample ballot & voter guide, register to vote, and more. Make a plan to cast your vote right here: