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For First Time In 30 Years, Illinois Woman Registers To Vote In 2020
Valerie Weiskirch is not a name most Americans would know. But as the creator of the “Midlothian Valerie” brand, Weiskirch clearly made a name for herself as a reliable journalist working a local circuit, centered around the community of Midlothian, Illinois. Say her name in the southwest suburbs and many government officials, business owners and residents will know exactly who she is, but it is the enduring legacy of her past political compositions that continues to amaze her the most.
“I remember years of my daytime and nighttime blending into a 24/7 blur of grey, with an occasional moment of such crystal clarity and asking myself why I was working so hard to produce original materials without a paywall or a paycheck. But it still is all about those moments where I will get a phone call from someone who read something I wrote 10 years ago and it just hits me right in the gut that I was right on with my efforts and my decisions, despite the poverty upon my own shoulders.”
Because of these types of civic efforts, Weiskirch is no stranger to tense political situations. Weiskirch, a divorced mother of two adult sons, has stood up against public policies and procedures affecting her and her family for well over 15 years. Weiskirch successfully pushed for the Midlothian municipal code book to be published online, led the charge to repeal an unconstitutional law making it illegal to “disguise your sex” based on your clothing, revealed and reported on numerous corrupt activities from government and was the first to post videos of public board meetings that were never before available to be seen.
“I have never really cared much who was in office because simply put, my beliefs and positions are not going to change with the political winds of an election,” Weiskirch says. “Once an election was over, I would simply go back to the drawing board and ponder how to approach the current people holding office to move something forward.”
Weiskirch believes one element of her effectiveness in local politics has been the fact that she hasn’t voted in 30 years. “One standard I have for anyone wanting my vote is that someone absolutely must not put up the obstruction of the faulty and flawed argument that if you don’t vote, you can’t speak about your grievances.”
“In some ways, I have felt like I have been operating ‘undercover’ for these past 30 years, taking the steps defined in these various law books to file grievance, being dismissed for one reason or another and then my walking away while scribbling down their names and the grounds for their rejection in my memory. Too bad if anyone doesn’t like it but I am not voting for someone who only cares about me when they need my voice. I don’t work that way in politics, or in life.”
Weiskirch has been anything but silent about her refusal to vote. She has put it in blog posts, battled it out on social media over the years and even her close friends have presented quality arguments against her position.
“Not one sliver of an argument presented to me over the years was sufficient enough to motivate me to suspend my protest, until now. And while the argument comes from my own belief system, this is not an easy shift to make. I don’t like thinking that politicians are talking to me because they want my vote and this time around, there will be those hoping to persuade me to cast a ballot in their favor. In fact, within 48 hours of my requesting an application, the robocalls started with ‘As a voter, we’d like to know your thoughts’. Funny how we can put ourselves on a do not call list if it’s a corporation, but if it has to do with an election, anything goes. ”
Despite bumps in her own road to the ballot box, Weiskirch wanted to do more with her decision than just cast a ballot. “I kinda figured that if I was going to go ahead and do something so dramatic for myself, I should at least come up with a few creative pieces to go along with. I kept staring at all of these platforms I have available to me and decided I would create a campaign that focused solely on the topic of registering.”
“With so many voices chanting ‘Vote’ I wanted to be a voice that rang out saying ‘Register Then Vote’ so I went about creating a 7 page blog post to one account, tossed up a few tweets and eventually pulled off a musical video of sorts to go along with the text.”
While the production quality of the video is low end, Weiskirch is unconcerned about her lack of video recording skills. Instead, she is proud of releasing an original song for the first time in 15 years and worried about how her own lyrics have taken on a more urgent tone in her own mind.
“One lone soul, lying in the street. Too late to know, it’s a bitter defeat,” Weiskirch quotes from the song. “Those aren’t words of a happy person. Those are words of a war-weary mother after 9/11 and during the Bush era who was terrified her children might be called to war for any reason, let alone the wrong one. But back then, it seemed truly important to find ways of remembering all of the good and after playing it out a few times, I put it on the shelf.”
“And while the battle of The Chicks vs. Bush was disturbing to enduring in the headlines, it is all about bands like Pussy Riot in Russian getting thrown in a jail with horrific conditions worse than anything reported here. It’s not about all Presidents having some sort of legitimized ‘final stamp of approval’ over music. It’s not in their power to demand it. But when the President of my country and other leaders across this nation started using the same words President Putin uses in Russia, I started paying extra attention.”
But Weiskirch insists this is not about national politics. “We all have always been but one justification away from being thrown in jail, run down by a car or even raped or shot. This is about the current breakthroughs of actions born from imagination into reality and the subsequent translation of emotions into physical attacks upon not just property, but people. I believe this election is all about the individual states and the decisions made in the 89,000 municipal units across this nation.”
“So if telling everyone I have suspended my protest via not voting helps motivate others to find their own reasons to register and vote, then great for them! I hope they search their own souls and cast their ballot for the person who speaks the most frequently on their behalf and I’ve got your back if you choose not to vote at all. It’s your vote and your voice to use.”
Weiskirch will once again be active in her local political scene, which still includes Midlothian, but will not be endorsing any candidates. “Despite my intent on writing critically about current elected officials, conversely it does not mean I am endorsing someone running against an incumbent through the writing. I am going to do my best to get as much fact out as I can, form a few personal opinions and that’s about it. The rest of my time is going to be spent working with local businesses and other members of the community to prepare for the wintertime trials we are facing here in the southwest suburbs. Things were kinda brutal and raw down here before Covid19, and with the Coronavirus pandemic, truths are just becoming more and more naked and exposed on top of every other pre-existing condition. I’m ready to rock ‘n roll, even if the stage has nothing but this keyboard and my computer screen. Count me in and count me registered to vote.”
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View the video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/0NwHP7A6ntM