Adapted from a message from AILA President Jennifer Minear to the AILA Board of Governors, November 3, 2020:
As I sit here today, working from home, listening to the election coverage on the radio, and anxiously shifting in my seat in contemplation of what tonight (and the coming days) will bring, I wanted to take a moment to mark this occasion with all of you. It is of course an understatement to say that this is an important day in our country’s history. It is almost certainly the most impactful and significant election of any of our lifetimes. Impactful for our practices and our clients; impactful for the millions of people watching in the U.S. and around the world; impactful for our children and grandchildren. If you have not already done so, I urge you to get out today and vote and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Our votes have never mattered more. It has never been more important that our voices be heard.
Yesterday, I had a very dispiriting conversation with a family member who has given up on our country. She believes that our democracy is irretrievably broken and that our system is so thoroughly corrupted and corrupting, and that so many Americans are either ignorant of or indifferent to that corruption, that there is nothing more we can do. She thinks that the authoritarians have won; that division and hatred have triumphed. As I sort through the snapshots in my brain over just the past few weeks (driving past a giant Confederate flag every day on my way to work; red “Xs” painted through Black Lives Matter signs; FB posts and even actual elected officials legitimizing Russian propaganda about a U.S. presidential candidate), I can definitely understand and relate to this point of view. Sometimes it’s just hard to believe that this is all happening in our country.
But where my family member sees a country flaming out, I see a phoenix rising.
I see millions of Americans voting early and marching in the streets, undeterred by government resistance and mendacious denunciations of their cause. THEY are what makes America. I see my clients who still believe in the American dream and who – every day – make contributions to our nation that strengthen and enhance that ideal. THEY are what makes America. I see my children who are outraged by intolerance and injustice. They will not allow it to persist when they are finally able to exercise the power of their voices and their vote. THEY are what makes America. I see all of you fighting every day to push back against unlawful and inhumane actions that tarnish our country’s proud legacy as a welcoming place for immigrants. I see us winning, time after time after time in the courts and in agency proceedings, and when we do lose, I see us getting right back up and heading back into the arena. YOU are what makes America.
So I choose optimism on this day. I choose hope. I have not and I will not give up on my country. No matter what the outcome of today’s election, I will keep fighting to keep this Great American Experiment alive and thriving. I will fight for my kids, for my clients, for all of you. I have never been more proud to be a member of AILA. Thank you to each and every one of you for your dedication, your leadership and your vision. Together, we will get through this day and all the days to come, and I firmly believe that we will emerge stronger than ever.
Stay safe, and VOTE!