I have done three water-only fasts of 25 days or longer in my lifetime. The first was for 40 days in the summer of 1972 for an end to the war in Vietnam. The second was for 42 days in the fall of 1992 in opposition to the planned government celebrations of the 500th anniversary of Columbus arriving in what is now the Americas. The third was for 25 days in 2007 on the very big issue of the climate emergency.
I have decided to do a fourth one, a 30-day, water-only fast to defeat Trump going from October 3 to November 3. For those 30 days I will consume only water, vitamin C, potassium and salt. I’ll be doing it in my house in northern New Jersey.
I’m doing this because I think that Trump’s re-election represents a huge threat to the world’s already-disrupted ecosystems, people of color and low-income people, our struggling democracy and just about everything else that is important to decent people. I feel the need to do all I can to help generate the massive voter turnout essential to ensure that he and many of his Republican accomplices are defeated.
I was first exposed to the idea of fasting through my study of the life of Mohandus Gandhi. He once said, “fasting is the sincerest form of prayer,” and through past fasts I have come to understand about prayer, and about what he meant.
To me, prayer is not about asking some spiritual entity for something. Prayer, I have come to believe, is about focusing all of one’s heart, mind and soul on something important, fully present, focused and open to enlightenment and inspiration.
In a long fast undertaken for a righteous cause, you are constantly thinking about why you are putting your body through this ordeal, thinking about others who are “fasting” or threatened with it not for a cause but because of a lack of food or water. You are identifying with their suffering and connecting with it.
I have been thinking about doing this for eight months. The idea of doing so came to me over the Christmas/New Year holidays. All of that time, while going about my work in the climate justice movement and, for many months, in the Bernie Sanders campaign, and since, I have been observing what has been happening in the Presidential race, keeping this idea alive in my mind. And I’ve decided, after the Democratic and Republican conventions and seeing the state of the Presidential race, that this action is appropriate for our serious situation. It’s time to go public with my intentions.
I hope that my action will help motivate those in the battleground states—like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Nevada–who voted for Bernie or Elizabeth or who are thinking of voting Green to vote for Biden. There’s only one way to get Trump out, and that’s to replace him with Biden. Once that is accomplished, the rising progressive movement must move to step up our campaigns for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, police demilitarization and restructuring and more.
I hope that my action will help motivate young people who are turned off to electoral politics. I urge them to register to vote and then vote because Trump is such an existential threat to any hope of making the fundamental transformation in this world that we need.
I hope my action will motivate progressives in all states to do more than just vote this fall but to work consistently up until November 3 to help generate a massive voter turnout, especially in the battleground states.
There is nothing more important over the next two months than work to defeat Trump.
Ted Glick is the author of the just published Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.