The Election’s Over – Time to Get to Work

Well, the election is over, and there is cause to celebrate for those who champion justice!  So take a second and enjoy this dancing Chihuahua!

I just put this song on and watched him for about 5 minutes.  If the .gif isn’t working, click on it.

Misogynists and rape apologists were soundly defeated around the nation.

Gay marriage was approved by ballot for the first time in two states while one state defeated a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

At least one state defeated a voter ID amendment that would disproportionately hurt Transgender folkspeople of Color, and the poor.

Steps were taken to end the racist drug war in at least two states.

More women will serve in the U.S. Senate than at any other time in U.S. history, and one of those women will be the first openly gay U.S. Senator.

Oh . . . and there’s that whole thing where the nation’s first Black president was reelected to a second term.

A few weeks back, I called out the folks of privilege who refuse to vote.  I, for one, think that voting is a vital (though troubling) part of the process for creating positive change.  However, a lot of folks were pretty upset by my take on voting, saying that simply voting encourages complacency and that it endorses the oppressive system of corporate interests.  I agree!  If all we did was vote, then we’d be leaving a whole lot up to chance and in the hands of some folks who just got a lot of money from corporations I don’t much like!  But I firmly believe that all politics are local.

This amazing article by C. Riley Snorton and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan pretty much sums up my feelings about voting:

Voting, in and of itself, is neither wholly system-changing nor inherently conciliatory; it is one available gesture in the series of actions through which those of us committed to an anti-oppressive politics live our lives . . . To vote is to practice a strategic embodiment. It is to lodge one’s body in a deeply flawed system as part of a larger commitment to developing a world we all might be better able to live in. As feminists of color, we know that politics neither begin nor end with the casting of the ballot. But, for us, right now, the ballot must be part of the process. And so, when the dust settles on this particular moment in history and the two of us return home from the polls, we know that we will continue to voice dissent, to engage in acts of self-care, and to practice a set of politics anchored in the belief that liberation is something we must fight—in all possible ways—to attain.

So, we voted.  I keep hearing people say, “I’m so glad the election is finally over!”  I couldn’t agree more, but I think I’m saying it for a different reason than most.  I am glad that the election is over because now we can pat ourselves on the back and toast our candidates of choice and get on with the real work.

Part of the problem with the American system of representative democracy is that it encourages people to see democracy as something that happens once every four years (or two years for about 1/3 of the population).    The reality, though, is that whether we are conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between, it is up to us to build the kind of communities we wish to see.  We have to take concerted action every day to realize a better world.

First and foremost, we must hold our elected representatives accountable.  We have to recognize that in the era of Citizens United, our votes are now being weighed against unprecedented levels of corporate cash.  Many of the banks we despise and evil corporations we hate gave to both candidates in numerous races, ensuring that no matter who won, their bidding was done.  But we have to remember that most politicians want one thing above all: re-election.  If they hear from their constituency that a particular course is needed, that’s going to influence them.  But only a tiny percentage of Americans ever actually contact their representatives!  Write a hand written letter; it will be taken incredibly seriously!  Make a phone call!  Send an email!  Best of all, stop by their offices when they’re in town and give them a piece of your mind!  Here’s all the information you need!

Perhaps more importantly, though, we have to realize that our communities are whatever we make them.  If we want communities that value justice, we have to live in a way that reflects justice and hold one another accountable to that ideal.  When someone you love says something that troubles you, ask them about it.  Challenge them!  When something happens in your community that worries you, organize your friends and family to send a different message!  Take to the streets!  Write letters to local media!  Stage a flash mob with a message!  Do something!!!

We have to remember that despite the systems of power and oppression that exist, all power rests with the people.  If a critical mass removes its consent from a system of injustice, that system will fall.

So if you’re wildly energized because your candidates and causes prevailed last night, get to work on making sure that progress continues.  If you’re steaming mad because your people lost, get to work on proving everyone wrong.  But for God’s sake!  Get to work!!!


One thought on “The Election’s Over – Time to Get to Work

  1. yes, and…it’s all about relationships. Get to know your neighbors and be a part of positive action in your community. Changing minds is only possible through trust. Now more than ever we have to find those foundational values we share and build on them.

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