As part of our Gear Up to Vote effort, we asked our employees, members and partner organizations to share what motivates them to vote. This Why I Vote perspective reflects the opinion of Lindsay Bourgoine, director of policy and advocacy at Protect Our Winters.
There are two reasons I will continue to show up and cast my opinion at the ballot box. The first is that as Americans, we are privileged to live in a democracy where we actually have the right the vote. So many citizens of the world do not have this right—do not have a voice, nor the opportunity to share their perspective on both the decision makers and issues that shape our daily lives. For that reason, I see voting as a duty. So many before me fought to ensure that I have the right to vote, and for that reason, I truly believe it is my duty to show up.
Second, voter suppression is real, and it has been happening for a long, long time. Right now, in my life, not only do I have the privilege to vote, but it is easy to do so. I work for an employer that allows me the time to vote, nor am I challenged in juggling child or eldercare. In Colorado, where I live, I have always received my ballot right on my doorstep, and I can drop it in the mail or return it to a ballot box that I can walk to from my house. Again, that makes it my duty to show up. There are far too many that do not have this incredible ease in casting a ballot. I cast my ballot with this perspective heavy on my mind, for all of those that truly need me to show up: I cannot answer this duty with apathy.
But this year, I will show up and vote for the issue of greatest concern to me: climate change. Red or blue, as Americans who love this nation’s great outdoors and the incredible experiences we have and can continue to have in nature, it’s not hard to see that things are changing. A few years back, I drove cross county, from my home state of Maine to the Washington coast. I visited the Olympics, the Cascades, Yellowstone, the Tetons, and the Badlands. I was training for a marathon at the time, so I spent days logging 15+ miles across the West, from Anacortes, Washington, to Missoula, Montana. Call it a cliché adventure for an East Coaster, but isn’t this what we all live for, as outdoor people? I think it is cliché for a reason, from the craggy coastlines to each soaring peak. But the reality is, I don’t have a cache of beautiful photos from this trip. In fact, I don’t have many photos at all. It was the summer of 2015 and it seemed the West was entirely on fire. The Paradise Fire was burning the Olympics. The Lake Chelan Fire lit up the Cascades. I can go on and on. The yellow sky, laden with smoke, blurred the clarity of those specular views. Simply put, this isn’t the new normal I want. In the middle of feeling freedom during a long trail run, I don’t want to feel choked by smoke, and concerned as an asthmatic, I’m doing long-term damage to my lungs. I don’t want to be helpless in the face of catastrophic change. So, I will vote. This November, I will show up and cast my ballot for the leaders that commit to addressing this issue for those of us that seek freedom in the great outdoors. And if you, too, love the land, I ask you to make a plan to vote.