By Blake Mazurek
On Monday I woke after a restless night of sleep with butterflies in my stomach. My excitement for casting an electoral vote for President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris was brimming over. To be honest, I also had an edge of concern about my and the other electors’ safety in the back of my mind.
This was a day to make history. I was going to cast my ballot for the 46th president and the first female Vice President in our nation’s history!
My concerns were immediately relieved when I arrived in Lansing to see a phalanx of Michigan State Police providing protection for each elector and dignitary present.
As we settled into the Senate chamber, the reality of the vote settled in. We were there to fulfill a process established in our Constitution. We were an active participant in our nation’s democracy. I also thought about how a middle aged, middle school history teacher was about to sign one of the official ballots for President and Vice President of the United States of America. Pinch me!
Typically, the role of elector is a perfunctory act to seal the deal of the state’s winner of the popular vote. It’s important, but not something that typically garners the attention we saw this time. Yet, in a year that has already been marked by the challenges of a pandemic, we electors found ourselves in the crosshairs of threats and pressures not felt in our country in a long while.
However, as each elector entered the Capitol, the cloud of anxiety and strain began to lift. We felt a sense of duty, honor and civic pride in what we were about to do.
How did I find myself in this seat? Engagement. Over the years, my involvement in MEA and political activism has grown wider and deeper. The protest against so-called Right to Work legislation in 2012 sparked my engagement, and the election of 2016 solidified my resolve to enter the arena.
Change only happens when we get involved. Each one of us has the ability to make a difference in our communities, locals and country.
Today, I am our local’s president, coordinating council’s PAC chair, volunteer for many campaigns and participant in our country’s democracy. These efforts have led me on a journey that brought me to the Senate chamber on a cold December day, smiling from ear to ear (under my mask) signing the ballots for President and Vice President of the United States of America.
I am grateful for the relationships I have developed in the MEA. Our association has so many ways for members to engage. Whether it be through PAC contributions, joining rallies, engaging in our MEA political caucuses or participating in legislative councils in conversation with our elected officials, it is all important. My engagement led me to be a small part of history on Monday, but it is not the end… it is just the beginning.
I encourage every member to seek ways to engage. Our work is not over; it continues and needs each and every one of us to participate. You may not find yourself casting an electoral ballot for President and Vice President, but you will find yourself fulfilled knowing you are a participant in our democracy!
Blake Mazurek is a middle school social studies teacher and president of the Grandville Education Association.