Show up

The first thing I saw waking up yesterday was Elizabeth Warren's newsletter about "Victory in Alabama". This was an unexpected piece of good news, in morning news that rarely brings much. That piece of good news happened because, despite complicated ID laws, voters (especially black voters) showed up. 

Every election over the past two years has reminded us that "decisions are made by those who show up" (I won't include any puzzled remark about the electoral college here). During the last British General Elections, the Conservative Candidate in my constituency won over the Liberal Democrat Candidate by 45 votes. FORTY-FIVE VOTES. That could have been 46 people saying, "I can't be bothered today". Personally, I couldn't show up in this one because I am not British, and I was too busy showing up in the French elections. 

There are many ways to analyse Emmanuel Macron's victory, from the candidates that other the other parties picked to his unique reading of the mood in France. From my experience working on the ground, the key was that he inspired people who had never before shown up for politics. If you took the Eurostar between April and June, you might have seen En Marche people leafleting at Saint Pancras. For most of them, it was their first political engagement. 

Showing up isn't just a way for you to influence the future of your country, it will impact your future very directly. If you're not there, you can't get the job. I can link every unlikely job I've had to my decision to just show up. While studying at the LSE, I worked at the British Museum as a curatorial assistant. A few months after I started, I asked the curator why I got the job. Apparently, he got a lot of emails from people interested in working at the BM, but few turned up to his office hours the way that I did when he suggested it. 

I discussed showing up with Dr Christine Cheng, a Lecturer at King's College, in our latest interview. In 2016, Christine joined the Liberal Democrat Party. Then she decided to do a bit more, and ended up on the committee that worked on the Liberal Democrat's Foreign Policy in the last general elections.