Timothy Bluitt, 72, voted for the first time in the 1972 election between Richard Nixon and George McGovern. We spoke with him and three other seniors about their thoughts on the current election and how it compares to election cycles of the past. Photo courtesy of Majesty Jordan.

Four L.A. Seniors Remind Us of the Importance of Our Vote

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It would be fair to say that this presidential election, like the year 2020, has been rather strange.

It’s taken the nation on a roller-coaster ride with multiple twists, turns and bumps along the way. Initially, many people were skeptical about Joe Biden’s chances to earn the Democratic nomination and surprised by his choice of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Then, the pandemic hit, and hundreds of thousands of people in the United States succumbed to COVID-19 while president Donald Trump downplayed the seriousness of the virus. He negated science and eschewed advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Non-sensical debates, superspreader rallies and militant Trump supporters prevailed as much of the country and the world looked on in disbelief.

The pandemic contributed to early voting and increased voter turnout in many states, which spiked fear for some members of the government who decided to remove mailboxes and engage in other forms of voter suppression.

Add to this the hasty confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett just before Election Day.

Timothy Bluitt, Diana Campbell, Joan West and Dee Hill are 338 years old collectively, and they’ve cast many votes over the years, including in a presidential election as far back as 1948.

As the saying goes, with age comes wisdom, and this quartet lets us know what’s on their minds.

Timothy Bluitt is 72 years old. He is a Vietnam veteran. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from UC Berkeley in 1974. Before retirement, he worked in the financial services industry.

He voted for the first time in the 1972 election between Richard Nixon and George McGovern.

Photo courtesy of Majesty Jordan.

How does this election differ from past elections that you’ve lived through?

Neither candidate is offering anything to Black constituents. This is nothing new. Voter suppression and scare tactics have been going on forever.

Who are you voting for and why? (There is no judgment here.)

I wrote in Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a protest vote. I vote down-ballot. I voted for all other candidates, measures and propositions from the choices available.

Why is it important to vote?

They select jurors from people who vote. If you don’t vote and then you complain about these poor Black kids being railroaded into the prison industrial complex by all-white juries — who’s at fault if you’re not in the pool to be selected?

What do you have to say to younger people voting?

Do not throw your vote away. Get something for your vote. The Latino community — Biden has told them, as well as Kamala Harris, that the first thing they’re going to do when they get into office, the first 100 days of the presidency, they will give amnesty to 11 million undocumented people. Don’t allow them to come to you singing and dancing and telling you that they like Cardi B.

Any other comments?

Life will continue. Police will continue killing us. It’s not a matter of who is in the White House. The national policy will continue until Black people learn to play the game as other groups are playing it. PowerNomics is a viable solution to the problems we face as a people.

Diana Campbell is 83 years old. She studies journalism at Los Angeles City College and likes to sing jazz and blues. She is a retired accountant and homemaker.

She voted for the first time in the 1960 election between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Photo by Ande Richards.

How does this election differ from past elections that you’ve lived through?

This election does not differ much from the previous illegal election other than the fraud and escalated domestic terror encouraged and condoned by the incumbent. It is like no other election I’ve participated in for over three decades.

It is replete with lies from the campaign team, supporting senators, misinformation, interference from other countries and voter suppression.

I can’t even believe that the Trump supporters have been emboldened enough to cause havoc at voting stations. They tried to run a Biden/Harris campaign bus off of the highway so that the rally had to be canceled.

This is a war on our democracy, and frankly, I’m so disgusted with the Trump supporters. I cannot believe they’ve been so duped and blind to the evil destruction this country’s been suffering for four years.

Who are you voting for and why? (There is no judgment here.)

Biden/Harris. It’s a choice between decency and candidates who will respect the Constitution and democracy or the continuing destruction of all the progress we made when Obama was in office. Our country was looked up to as the gold standard for democracy, now we are loathed and pitied for our treatment of immigrants and our allies.

Why is it important to vote?

Four more years of this president will take us down to where our enemies want us. We are simply pawns in Russia’s game plan.

 What do you have to say to younger people voting?

You can save us. It’s up to you — I believe! Help resurrect our treaties and commitments abroad for the sake of the future by addressing climate change and the pandemic.

Any other comments?

I think the worst part of the past four years has been finding out people you liked and thought were decent are Trumpers. Even worse — when you find out they are full-on cultists who believe Trump was sent here by God!

Joan West is 89 years old. She is active in her church community and used to attend St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Baldwin Hills until she moved to Hemet with her daughter. She is a retired office manager and executive administrative assistant.

She voted for the first time in the 1952 election between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson.

Photo courtesy of Joan West.

How does this election differ from past elections that you’ve lived through?

I’ve never been terrified of leaving my home before. The virus, my age and medical conditions prevent me from going out to vote. Plus, the amount of racism and hate the current president is spreading everywhere is frightening.

Who are you voting for and why? (There is no judgment here.)

I am voting for Biden because of his empathy and compassion for all people. Plus, he seems serious about getting a handle on this virus. One of the main reasons I voted for him is that he is smart enough to have chosen a young, smart woman of color in Kamala Harris as his VP.

Why is it important to vote?

It took too many struggles, starting with slavery and then segregation in our past generations, for Blacks/African Americans to finally gain the freedom to vote.

But mind you, they are still trying to take or suppress that freedom from us. And unfortunately, many do not know that our freedom to vote is “not” law and can be taken away.

What do you have to say to younger people voting?

Don’t ever give up the fight for your freedom to vote. Continue with doing “good trouble” and push the government to make it a law.

Any other comments?

It is not over yet!

Dee Hill is 94 years old. She rides her bicycle every day, tends to her garden and maintains the home for her busy family.

She voted for the first time in the 1948 election between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey.

Photo courtesy of Dee Hill.

How does this election differ from past elections that you’ve lived through?

It’s a circus! Embarrassing! The idea that a president is planning to cheat in order to win.  Trump is an embarrassment to the country.

Who are you voting for and why? (There is no judgment here.)

I’m voting for Biden. His empathy is important to me. He makes you feel like he really cares — for everyone.

Why is it important to vote?

Even as a kid, I remember my folks listening to the radio, engaged in the process. I grew up understanding the importance. It took Trump to wake people up. Voter suppression is real, and everyone needs to pay attention.

What do you have to say to younger people voting?

It’s important. Every vote counts. Your vote could be the deciding factor. If you enjoy this country, be a part of the process. No matter how flawed … [It’s] a way of showing your love for the country. It shows you are proud to be an American.

Any other comments?

The best thing about Biden is that he wants to bring the country together. I have never seen the country more divided than it is today.

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