This is USA Politics Talk. You can turn back now if you don’t want any more of that for a while.
This question might not be low stakes enough for your mood right now, but it might be something you’re already thinking about? Or too short for a regular question and best held for Short Answer Friday if you are resuming Short Answer Friday? Also, I am glad to hear that Mr. Awkward is home and doing better!
I’m looking for advice on how to approach election night, for the many of us for whom November 8 2016 was terrifying and traumatic. Okay that might be the extent of my question.
I figure the situation is not dissimilar to the first anniversary of a death, but one that was a huge loss for everyone I know and care about, and I doubt anyone is in a position to provide support more than receive it. Regardless of the returns and the eventual outcome of the midterms, I’m just worried about getting through the day, and through the work of getting out the vote. I am out of state working on a campaign, same as I was in 2016, so once again I am isolated from my support network and sleeping on someone’s futon and will be spending my election day the same way as I did in 2016: doing the work, probably on not a lot of sleep or quality nutrition, and with strangers. I guess what I’m looking for is framing or scripts for my own brain to get through this day productively and with minimal revisiting of trauma. I am very extroverted but also super not a phone person and have a tendency towards unhealthy self isolation when in a bad emotional state (in 2016 I didn’t answer my phone or talk to anyone for two full days), so I’m not sure what to plan that will make things go smoother.
Go Knock Doors (she/her)
Hi there friend, I’m sorry I didn’t get to this in time to help you through yesterday, but hopefully you’re still here today and you can see that we lost some BUT WE WON SOME.
Like you, I didn’t want to relive 2016 election night, which I spent panic-barfing up tacos (still can’t order from that place to this day), watching the map turn red and knowing what that meant for us.
Last night I ended up reading a book (Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night, as fun as y’all have been telling me it was for years) under some kittens and tried to stay off Twitter. I made it until about 9pm, then I had to look. I didn’t have a plan or a good process to give to other people, probably the one lesson I personally learned from that night in 2016 was “watching news coverage where the results come in in real time makes you super-anxious, you literally never need to see the New York Times needle graphic or go to the site fivethirtyeightdotcom again in this life, so, whatever you do, DON’T DO THAT.”
I hope you found sleep and solidarity with other people and the right amount of Drinking or Not Drinking and strength from knowing that you did all you could. Unfortunately, there is no way to just not feel awful feelings of dread or insulate ourselves from bad news.
But it’s today, so, hello! You made it! We made it to today!
Did you see that we flipped the freaking House of Representatives?
Did you see that young people voted in record numbers in a Midterm?
Did you see that a ton of women are going to Congress, including Muslim women, Native women, and other young women of color?
Did you see that Florida restored voting rights to more than a million people?
Did you see that some truly terrible governors got FIRED?
Your calls, texts, postcards to voters, door-knocking, standing in line to vote, whatever you did, IT MATTERED.
The losses were heartbreaking, but the hard work of the people like you who made those races closer than anybody expected (especially in the face of blatant voter suppression) MATTERED.
There is much more work for all of us to do and the things that were scary two days ago are still scary, but there is a tiny bit of breathing room to do the work that didn’t exist yesterday.
True Story: I’m not some crackerjack activist, and this campaign season was the first time I ever knocked doors. Saturday, I headed to the suburbs to try to help unseat a Congressman who had voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The volunteers I met & rode with were so great. (And cute.) And I overcame a lifetime of aversion to bothering people, and it turns out that people were mostly open to being bothered for a few minutes. Some of the people I talked to really did want to vote and really did need just a little push – some info on early voting, that personal “Hi, you’re important!” moment, “Ok, let’s make a plan!” – in order to get it done. My feet hurt, most people weren’t home, it was awkward as hell, but the only times I got even sort of yelled at were to say “I voted already! Good luck!” And look, we did the thing!
And now there’s a candidate running for Chicago Mayor who I have my eye on and I think I’m gonna go ahead and download some signature forms today to help get her on the ballot and I think I’m gonna go ahead and risk bothering people a little bit to make a better world. Whatever happens, I will never half-ass any of this ever again. You (plural, global you, not Letter Writer-you who ARE a crackerjack activist) won’t, either.
For those of you trying to figure out where to go from here, what do you believe to be true and what do you believe needs to happen about that?
I believe that Black lives matter.
[Edited slightly to make sure I’m not co-opting specifically black liberation language:] We also need to support and defend the lives of trans people, disabled people, Jewish people, Muslim people, Native people, sex workers, incarcerated people, immigrants and refugees.
That’s not the whole list, and sure, “all lives matter,” but until we start identifying, lifting up, and protecting the most vulnerable people in our society and fucking DEMONSTRATING that all lives actually matter, nobody should say that phrase unless they want to sound like a jerk. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
Food and shelter and economic security are human rights.
Health care is a human right.
Reproductive rights are human rights.
Collective bargaining/forming a union to advocate for fairer working conditions is a human right.
People should not be persecuted for walking across imaginary lines on maps in search of greater prosperity and safety. For those who want to become citizens, the path should be transparent & fair and not involve terror of deportation or incarceration.
Every citizen should be able to vote easily and without obstacles and know that their vote will be counted. Stringent ID laws, hours-long lines and other shenanigans designed to suppress certain votes are bullshit and a national goddamn shame. We need a new Voting Rights Act.
Climate change is real and we need leaders who will take serious, radical action to protect the planet and mitigate its effects on all of us.
We should not have to worry about being shot in places of worship, schools, movie theaters, concerts, or LITERALLY ANYWHERE. There are sensible ways to regulate gun ownership that will still let people who want guns hunt & target shoot & defend themselves and it’s decades past time to fucking implement them.
That list is like, a MINIMUM list. It’s not the whole list. It’s not even a particularly radical list.
Voting is just one part of the work. All of us are going to have to keep calling, texting, protesting, organizing, striking, and finding other ways to resist violent white supremacy and Fascism and make our voices count. It’s exhausting (by design), so pace yourself, do what you can and you are set up to do, and find other people who lift you up and sustain you. Also, someone in your community is already doing work around something on this list. Find those people and work in solidarity with them. You don’t have to do it alone.
Here’s a poem I’ve been reading a lot (thanks to Sweet Machine).
Here’s a good list of what to do next. Celebrate if you want to, mourn if you need to, and then figure out what part of the work you’ll do next.
I’m working on a Search Terms post and will resume less political posting/comment moderation tomorrow.
Be excellent to yourself and each other. ❤
P.S. A nice person named Lindsay just sent me 2 more poems: