Opinion: Independent Progressive: Fall in 2020, the Lost Year

Opinion: Independent Progressive: Fall in 2020, the Lost Year

Ah, October! It is one of my very favorite months of the year with the clearing and cooling air, and the trees showing their fall colors. In a normal year by this time we would have planned our annual fall excursion to Harpers Ferry where Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland meet. We love the scenic vistas overlooking the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, walks by train tracks and along the Potomac, and the visits to the John Brown museum and the armory where he and his tiny band holed up.

This year our day in Harpers Ferry has been delayed, perhaps by a later change in the leaves, the presence of Covid-19 menace and the tension in the air as elections near. Still, we are determined to make the visit even though it won’t be possible for the whole family as has been the norm for many years.

Fall in our area is just not the same this year of Covid-19. Where is Fort Pumpkin? Where are the community fall festivals? Where was Reston’s wonderful Multi-Cultural Festival at Lake Anne? We certainly missed the German Military Command’s annual Oktoberfest in the huge hangar at Dulles and Euro Bistro’s Oktoberfest, complete with the best little beer band this side of Munich! And we’re getting stressed thinking about Thanksgiving just around the corner without the whole family—20 plus—together at our house. The baseball Fall Classic, the World Series, just won’t be the same without the fans; and college and pro football missing crowds of 50-100,000 fans.

Happily, the Reston Farmers Market is still in operation, with lots of pumpkins and all the other fresh goodies you can imagine-every Saturday morning 8 a.m. to noon all the way through Dec. 5! And with shoppers and vendors alike wearing increasingly colorful masks, every Saturday is like Halloween!

Then we get to the event of greatest national significance on November 3, 2020. Besides the election of Congressmen and women and US Senators, we the people finally will have the opportunity to remove this president. Under normal circumstances, this would be the pinnacle of our routine civic duties as citizens, to select the head of our government. But Covid-19 also intrudes here. Covid makes it necessary for people to work a little harder in order to reduce the risk that goes with simply going to local polling stations to cast their votes. If all those eligible to vote actually did so, the polls would be dangerously overcrowded and amount to being giant super-spreader events.

However, we have a proven alternative way of voting—absentee ballots sent via the US Mail. Millions use this vehicle every election safely and efficiently. Even the incumbent president uses the mail ballot when he votes! But, he has decided to propagate another false conspiracy theory to try to persuade voters that absentee voting is loaded with a risk of fraud. He hopes this lie will scare off enough people from voting to increase his slim chance of winning. Instead, his scheme seems to be generating more disgust with his behavior, even within his own party, than fear of voting.

Besides making the change at the top, Virginia voters have another vital matter to deal with on their ballots. Our voters, at long last, are getting the opportunity to reform the Commonwealth’s crooked process of gerrymandering to make a fairer process of drawing legislative districts. This is an easy one—just vote YES on the Constitutional Amendment. A small group of Democratic delegates (but not our Delegate Ken Plum) are trying to save the gerrymander, apparently believing that now that they are the majority party they can use it to their advantage. They want a NO vote.

I hope you will join Delegate Plum, our Senator Janet Howell, the League of Women Voters and yours truly by voting YES on the Constitutional Amendment. With a change of president and the amendment, 2020 will not be a total loss!