By Tessa Greenspan (as told to Nanette Wiser)
This is an homage to Notorious RBG, a call for action and a plea for calm, intelligent behaviors in the presidential election maelstrom. Red, blue or purple, what really matters in the next 30+ days is to get out and VOTE.
These are stressful times, with angry ads, disrespectful communications and strident media commentators. There are two things you can do to reduce election stress. First, research the issues and candidates thoroughly on trusted sources. Ignore the hyperbole and pay attention to the facts…and think for yourself. Keep your eye on the big picture – voting, helping those who can’t get to polls to vote and making sure your neighbors and friends are registered to vote.
Voting is a privilege and thanks to RBG and other activists, a right.
After the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sept. 18th, there was a 68% increase over the previous Saturday and Sunday of new voter registration according to Voter.org. Americans want to be heard, and in particular, women who, without the suffrage movement, would not be able to vote and African Americans, who without the civil rights movement, would not have a voice in the upcoming election.
That’s a step in the right direction, to replace the mental rehashing of competing political ads with the action of recruiting new voters and ensuring all people, regardless of their circumstance, get to vote in person or by mail.
Why RBG Matters
If you watched the RBG film “On the Basis of Sex,” or the Betsy West and Julie Cohen documentary about her life or read the biography by Jane Sherron De Hart “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life,” you know that RBG’s fiery dissents and fearless battle for women’s rights changed the world we live in. Voting in November will shape the future.
Ginsburg fought for women to get equal pay, acquire credit cards, sign a mortgage or have a bank account without a male co-signer and so much more. Before Ginsburg’s legal battles, state-funded colleges did not have to admit women. She changed all of this. “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception,” she said.
What RBG Taught Me
I learned many lessons from RBG, including her calm under fire, ability to be friends with those who did not share her point of view (like Justice Scalia), to fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
If you ever have encountered the glass ceiling in work, you know the importance of mentoring other women to grow and be included on a board or in executive leadership. As a member of several women’s business organizations, I’ve always reached out and invited people on the way up to participate and helped mentor them to crack the glass ceiling.
RBG said that “real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” I believe this with all my heart. You have to keep the faith, visualize the positive outcome to make change happen. Building trust, staying the course, being resilient are the keys to success in life and work. When encountering difficulty, brainstorm possibilities and ask “how can I turn this situation around. “ That’s the RBG legacy we can all incorporate into our outlook.
Reduce The Noise, Empower Change
- Help register voters. Help voters get to the polls or get mail-in ballots.
- Make it your mission to make sure people vote. Call foul and report when you see voter suppression, voter ID laws that seem discriminatory or purges of voter rolls without supervision and accountability.
- The noise about mail-in ballots getting lost, or abducted, or whatever, is a soundbyte in the news cycle. If you can’t get to the polls, or because of changes due to the unpredictable COVID-19 developments, polls are closed, hurry up and get a mail-in ballot.
- Stay up-to-date with election news from your county, state or reputable national site. One good resource, in addition to your county board of elections website is to visit www.usa.gov/election-day.
- Don’t believe everything you read on social media as some of that is planted by a particular group to dissuade or frighten voters.
If you do any or all of this, you honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy and fight for freedoms. The danger of which Ginsburg warned us persists: The urge for some Americans to keep others from having democratic voice. Make it your mission to make a difference.
Author and motivational speaker Tessa Greenspan is one of the most influential women in business today. The former owner of Sappington Farmers Market in St. Louis for 28 years, Greenspan sold the business to pursue a successful speaking and writing career. Her recent memoir has become an international bestseller: “From Outhouse to Penthouse – Life Lessons on Love, Laughter and Leadership,” is available on Amazon here. “Failure is not an option,” is Greenspan’s motto. Her lectures on positivity in business and life include tips and processes for transforming personal and professional relationships during these challenging times. Her podcast, “Tuesdays with Tessa,” runs 10 am CT, hosted by Dr. Deb Carlin. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her at tessagreenspan.com.