Nancy Leifer and Nancy Maxson, co-Presidents of the League of Women Voters Missoula

A note from the writers: As we come to the end of the year, many of us are reflecting back and thinking of how we might remember, summarize and depict the events of the last year. We started working on a year-end summary and quickly realized we, Nancy and Nancy, had many things we wanted to say and different ways we wanted to say them. For this weekly column and the next one, one of us has taken the lead as writer and the other provided editorial support. This week Nancy Leifer has taken the lead.

How will you remember the year 2020?  In the rush to put 2020 behind us, it is tempting to dismiss the year as a disaster, one we are eager to put behind us. But as with all disasters, 2020 has also brought opportunities to share our better selves in significant ways.

Health care workers have been working overtime to care for those seriously ill with COVID-19. Essential workers continued the supply of food to our grocery stores and other necessities of life while risking their health and lives. Food bank donations increased to meet the increased need.

Neighbors ran errands for those in quarantine or sheltering at home, especially for elders.  We shared a moment of comradery peering through the fogged glasses above our masks while struggling to do the simplest of tasks.

The pandemic disrupted our pre-pandemic lives and caused us to remember what is most important. Friends and family, a place to shelter, food to eat? none of these can be taken for granted. The irony is that while we are isolating ourselves physically, we are realizing that we are all in this together. Every person on the face of the earth is facing the threat of the virus to their family and friends, to themselves and their communities.

How we respond to this common threat matters. The United States has the highest numbers of cases and deaths from the pandemic of any country in the world, exceeding other nations by a large margin. The fact we are doing so poorly in keeping the virus from spreading is an indicator of how commitment to each other has eroded over time as people shift toward a “me first”  view of the world. A commitment to wear a mask and maintain social distancing makes a difference in the spread of the virus. It indicates our willingness to put others first and is a way we show our better selves.

For me, the quiet heroes of 2020 also include those who protected the welfare of our democracy against threats of interference. The county officials and volunteers who served as election judges risked their health to maintain the integrity of our elections and helped us vote in record numbers in 2020 elections. In the face of unprecedented political pressure to invalidate the results, these quiet heroes stood up for the integrity of our election process. State election officials and the courts in numerous lawsuits confirmed that the 2020 general election was conducted and tabulated safely and securely.

We are all in this democracy together. Now is the time for our better selves to move on, honoring the election process and the right of those who won to carry our democracy forward.

The League of Women Voters has been registering voters and providing non-partisan voting information for over 100 years. Membership is open to men and women, citizens and non-citizens over the age of 16.  For more information about the Missoula League, go to our website:

Spotlight on Citizenship

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