Brad Keywell

Creating Our Republic’s Newest Holiday: Election Day

To whomsoever much is given, much is required -- words that trace back to the Bible, words paraphrased throughout the ages, words more prescient than ever.

What is required of us as citizens of the United States of America? It’s simple – we must vote!

As the founder and CEO of Uptake, a technology company serving global industry, I’ve made the decision to make Election Day (Tuesday, November 3rd) a company holiday. I’m challenging each member of the Uptake team to use that special day not only to vote but also as a provocation to volunteer five (or more) hours to assist voting facilitation and voter empowerment organizations. And I'm amplifying the impact of our team by offering these organizations use of Uptake's Enterprise AI platform without charge.

As citizens of a republic, each of us have the privilege of holding a powerful tool to repair America’s inequities. You hold a hammer – your vote – recalling the proverb, ‘The same hammer that breaks the glass forges the steel.’ The glass of the American experiment is cracked in many ways. Yet each vote strengthens democracy's hammer to more powerfully forge the steel of a better society.

There is so much wrong in our country, and there is so much in our history about which we should be ashamed. Yet our ‘American experiment’ of democracy has survived and adapted and improved and evolved for over 230 years. Now more than ever, this experiment – our American republic – requires us citizens to play our role. Each of us must vote.

Literally, a ‘Republic’ is defined as ‘a country whose supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives’. Protests over the past month have clearly signaled America’s citizens are not only angry but also believe they must take to the streets to be heard. The signal of protest conveys a lack of belief that those in city halls, statehouses, and federal government are not truly representing the people. This is not a new phenomenon, of course, and this frustration is not about red or blue. It’s about our representatives, their actions, and our votes.

The movement behind Black Lives Matter creates the hope that our republic will permanently eliminate racial inequalities. The severe confluence of pandemic and economic distress creates the hope that our republic will act swiftly with intelligence and discipline to reduce disease outbreak and assist our economy’s recovery. Leadership can convert hope into lasting change, yet our elected officials pervasively lack the skills to represent and lead. Screaming voices across America are demanding change. Thankfully, our republic gives us each a vote -- the ultimate mechanism for our voices to be heard.

We hold our republic’s fragile future in our voting hands. Some think we will use our hands to strangle our democracy. John Adams, one of our country’s founders, addressed this fear when he said, ‘Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.’ The more we citizens vote, the better we extinguish Adams’ existential fear.

As a CEO, I have an opportunity to shine a spotlight on our right to vote. Making election day an Uptake holiday increases the ease of voting for each member of our team and encourages that we each wield our most powerful influence over our representatives. If all CEOs join me in this action, we will effectively make election day a national holiday, resolving its confusing absence alongside Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. I challenge all CEOs to join me.

Technology company CEOs hold a special opportunity to strengthen our voices and empower us to vote. We oversee precious resources – employees skilled in tech tools, AI, and more. Our people have skills powerful in enabling online connections, leveraging social media, and harnessing mobile apps. These skills can be put to work for our republic, assisting the activity of nonprofit organizations to ensure that every person votes. Tech can amplify voter-encouragement efforts and coordinate collective action.

I’ve challenged each of Uptake’s employees to do more than simply walk the streets in voter drives. I’ve asked them to deploy their skills as technologists and data scientists and marketers in service of voting facilitation organizations. I’m heartened that nearly 95% of our team has taken me up on this challenge, and hopefully we’ll reach the magic three-digit percentage for this volunteer effort. As further encouragement, each organization ‘adopted’ by an Uptaker will be offered use of the Uptake platform at no cost, so that they can unleash AI-powered insights to strengthen their voter-enablement and voter-empowerment efforts. Perhaps every technology company will follow our lead.

Your vote amplifies your voice – voices heard well beyond the choice of President and members of Congress. Most ballots present candidate choices for more than twenty elected offices, including those that will allocate pandemic-fighting resources and calibrate police power and law enforcement. Your state’s status of ‘red’ and ‘blue’ doesn’t necessarily paint election results, especially so in local races. Your thoughtful vote is also your vote against ignorant allegiance to one political party.

The actions we’re taking at Uptake reflect appreciation for living in a country whose framework allows for collective action that results in positive change. In biblical terms, we have been given education and experience as technologists and data scientists, and we recognize the 'requirement' that we use our skills to strengthen the precious core of our Republic. Our foremothers and fathers worked incredibly hard to give us privileges, and today we choose bold action in tribute to their efforts and in service to the future generations of our republic.

In 1787 Philadelphia while the U.S. Constitution was being hammered out, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what the convening inside Independence Hall had produced, to which he replied, ‘A Republic, Madam, if you can keep it!’ November the third is a date to be celebrated as a national holiday, an opportunity to use the voice of your vote to speak to Benjamin Franklin’s provocation with these words: ‘Yes we can!’

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© Brad Keywell 2021