Key Issues

Patriotic Participation


Since its release on Disney+ July 3, I’ve been watching and listening to “Hamilton: The Musical” on a regular basis while anxiously awaiting the day when live theater is again a reality so I can see it in person. I was undoubtedly late to the Hamilton party but I quickly fell in love with the storytelling, the cast, the music, and the connection I felt between the show and the 2020 election already swirling around me.

As the musical teaches us, once Alexander Hamilton arrives in New York City he joins up with the collection of colonial revolutionaries plotting to challenge King George and form their own country. In the musical version, Hamilton and his friends sing “The Story of Tonight,” perfectly capturing the anticipation and confidence of the moment just before an action is taken.

“The Story of Tonight” isn’t all that different from the ways ordinary citizens took action during the 2020 election season. Sure, we weren’t sitting in a tavern in New York City plotting over pints of Sam Adams, but we were plotting the best way to get involved during a global pandemic.

Volunteers worked online to register new voters coast to coast, engaged citizens wrote millions of postcards and letters to voters encouraging them to turn out, and people burned up the phone lines contacting voters for their preferred candidates. Canvassing was put on hold for the most part but many of us found no-contact literature drops to be a valuable way to spend election energy. Masked sign wavers stood on street corners as Election Day drew nearer to turn out every last vote for their party.

My 20-month-old daughter has a favorite song from Hamilton and while we listen to it on repeat via YouTube, I’ve heard reflections of both our fledgling country in the late 1700s and the 2020 election. “In The Room Where It Happens” tells the story of Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison deciding where the U.S. capital will be located. But it is also an anthem to Americans to be part of the decision-making process.

As citizens, our most sacred duty is to vote. It’s also the best way to ensure our voices are heard when decisions are made. This year 84.14% of registered voters in Washington cast ballots. Each voter took the time to be part of the democratic process. Every election, whether for the President of the United States or your town’s mayor, is important. Every single election demands that voters show up and participate in order to be heard.

“Hamilton: The Musical” ends with Eliza Hamilton singing about her husband’s legacy in the song “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” She reassures listeners that someone will persist in doing the work and telling the truth long after a political warrior’s time is up. The same thing holds true for this election season. History will tell the story of Americans who turned out in a raging pandemic to cast their ballots for candidates and issues they believed in. The truth will be told that more ballots were cast this year than ever before in our nation’s history. Each vote is a reminder that patriotic participation is the only way to ensure we keep moving forward as a country.

Meredith Browand is a mother and an activist who lives in Purdy.