Joe Biden may have won the election, but our fights for progressive policy are not yet over—reproductive rights could still be at stake, climate change is still happening, and police brutality is still happening (to name a few). Presidential elections, no matter the outcome, don’t immediately remove oppressive systems from American society. So while voting is a great way to enact political change, it isn’t the only way—the rest of the fight is up to us. Here are a few other ways we can make sure that the momentum of the blue wave continues long after the election.
If You Are Eligible, Vote In The Georgia Runoff Election
Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock will enter a runoff election on January 5th against incumbent Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively. On Election Day, none of the candidates received 50% of votes, the cutoff needed to avoid a runoff. The outcome of these two runoffs will determine which party will take control of the Senate—an Ossoff/Warnock victory would mean a blue Senate. The earliest day an already registered voter can mail their absentee ballot for this election is November 18th, and the last day to register to vote is December 7th. Early voting will begin on December 14th. If you are a Georgia resident of at least 17 ½ years of age, you can register to vote in the runoffs through the Secretary of State’s office here. (Gen-Z, do your thing.) And of course, if you’re not eligible to vote in Georgia, you can still volunteer and get involved in the final fight to flip the Senate.
Contact Emily W. Murphy And Tell Her To Recognize Biden As The Winner Of The Election
Emily W. Murphy, the Trump-appointed administrator of the General Services Administration, must formally recognize President-elect Biden for the transition of power to begin. When Murphy does so, the Biden-Harris team will be able to access millions of dollars in funding, begin studying agency briefing, and access office space. However, Murphy still has yet to declare him the winner, consequently holding up the process. You can email Murphy at [email protected], call her at 202-501-1794, or fax her at 202-501-4281. Tell her to formally recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and begin this transfer of power.
Become Familiar With Your Local Politicians
Local representatives do important work that directly affects you and your immediate community, so it’s important to be familiar with their policies. You can input your address here to find a full list of your local elected officials and their contact information. The Presidential election may get the most attention, but it’s crucial to vote in local and state elections, because that’s how a lot of the biggest changes are carried out.
If You Find A Local Politician Whose Policies You Support, Volunteer In Their Campaign
You’ll play a key role in influencing future voters to help your area stay blue. Your campaign involvement could include text and phone banking, assistance with voter registration, and many other forms of community outreach.
Begin Community Organizing
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Check out this Introduction to Organizing from Center for Community Change to learn more about what organizing in your community could look like. A process aimed at creating change, it can come in many forms and at many levels—from creating petitions and fundraisers to leading demonstrations. If you’re interested in the latter, check out this Rally Organizing Guide from MoveOn. (Keep in mind that there are often existing organizers who have been doing important community work and creating verified events—so if you want to get involved with a cause, do your research to make sure that you’re not trying to essentially ‘start’ a movement that already exists.)
Attend Demonstrations Related To Causes You Care About
Protests and demonstrations have always been an important part of our country’s democracy, and they’re not going anywhere. Small or large, demonstrations can play an important role in making your voice heard and getting momentum behind important causes. Before you go, make sure you take a look at Amnesty International’s guide to staying safe during protests and the ACLU’s guide to protester’s rights.
Get Involved With Local Issue-Driven Organizations
Contributing some of your free time or money to community-based groups dedicated to reproductive health and immigrant and refugee wellbeing, for example, is a great way to make immediate and direct changes around you.
There are countless organizations all over the country that need your help to help others. Below, find a few of our favorites:
Reproductive Health: Help make sure that people continue to have access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, birth control, abortions, family planning, and much more. Planned Parenthood
Immigrant & Regufee Issues: Your donations will help provide free or low-cost legal aid to immigrants who are detained or in immigration custody. RAICES, The Florence Project, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project
Bail Funds: In states with bail or bond systems, these donations release jailed protesters. Louisville Community Bail Fund, Atlanta Solidarity Fund, Philadelphia Bail Fund, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, Portland Freedom Fund
Black LGBTQ Funds/Organizations: Help provide mental health care, medical aid, education and more to Black LGBTQ communities. Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, Sylvia Riviera Law Project, The Okra Project, Marsha P. Johnson Institute
Disabled BIPOC Funds/Organizations: Donations will go toward medical aid and educational programs for disabled Black/indigenous people of color. HEARD (Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities), Autistic People of Color Fund
Policy Reform Organizations: You can help fund legislative efforts to change racist policies at both local and national levels. ACLU, Color of Change, Los Angeles Black Worker Center, Dallas Alliance Against Racial and Political Oppression
Images: Spike Johnson / Shutterstock.com; fairfightaction, moveon, plannedparenthood / Instagram
Hear ye, hear ye! Election Day is finally here. After months of candidate commercials, televised debates, lots of deranged tweets, and one global pandemic, the day has finally arrived for us to cast our votes and hope America gets renewed for another season. As if 2020 hasn’t been traumatizing enough, we now have the pleasure of dealing with election anxiety. Yes, voters are now experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety as a result of this sh*tshow we call an election. I mean, duh. But as we gear up to head to the polls, check our mail-in status, and anxiously await the results, it’s crucial that we also carve out time to take care of ourselves. A lot of things are out of our control right now, and that can feel overwhelming, but spiraling into a dark hole of doom and hopelessness isn’t going to do anyone any good. Perspective and mindfulness are key. It’s critical that we find ways to keep ourselves occupied and in check. To help reduce some of this election induced anxiety, I consulted with multiple experts on how to emotionally prepare yourself for election day.
What Is Election Anxiety?
First off, let me assure you that the glass case of emotions that you are in with respect to this election are completely valid. Election Stress Disorder, aka election anxiety, is a real thing that is taking a toll on a majority of voters leading up to the 2020 election, with 52% of Americans reporting in a survey done by the American Psychological Association that the election is “a very or somewhat significant” source of stress. So you’re not alone! I spoke with Natalie Ryan, LCAT, a psychotherapist in NYC, who says, “Nearly all of my patients have been speaking about election related stress and anxiety.” She adds, “A topic that’s come up a lot in sessions is processing people’s biggest fears of what might happen if their candidate does or doesn’t win.” This feeling of uncertainty and anticipation for Tuesday’s election results is only increasing our already heightened sense of anxiety from the dumpster fire that is 2020. I also spoke with the Regional Medical Director at One Medical, Natasha Bhuyan, MD, who has seen an influx of patients dealing with excess stress due to the upcoming election. Dr. Bhuyan says that, “Some patients are having trouble sleeping with racing thoughts about worst-case scenarios. Others are spending lots of time consuming the news and struggling to unplug.” I feel incredibly seen.
To elaborate more on how people, specifically younger generations, are feeling, I spoke with the Senior Director of Measurement & Insights at Fullscreen, Amelia Rance. Fullscreen’s insights division launched an election study that surveyed the political stances of 3,000 millenials and Gen Zers, ranging in ages from 18 to 37 years old. Rance says they found that, “We’ve always seen with a lot of the research that we do that this generation is thinking more about their future and are more aware of certain things, so they feel this stress and anxiety overall more than some of the other generations.” And they all said millennials were self-centered.
Rance continues, “When we asked specifically about the election, uneasy was the number one emotion that they were feeling, tied with hopeful.” This awkward balance of feelings can be a lot to handle. The best way to manage this upset of emotions is to find ways to support yourself and your mental health, especially during times of political uncertainty. Yes, I’m talking about self-care!
Have A Voting Plan
First and foremost, establish a voting plan. Dr. Bhuyan says, “Start by having a plan for Election Day. If you haven’t voted, where will you go to vote? Be sure to research the polling location and logistics like parking.” She also advises, “Do a sample ballot ahead of time (including the initiatives) so you don’t feel stressed about making those decisions on Election Day.” The more organized you are, the better your brain is going to feel. If you’re voting by mail, then double check you sent it in on time and its status. If you’re voting in person, make sure you have the right address for your polling location. Preparation is essential in reducing unnecessary stress.
Plan Your Day
Along with establishing a voting plan, it’s also wise to think about how you want to spend the day. Are you planning on watching the news all day, or are you blocking everything out and pretending like it’s not happening? Will you be with friends and family, or by yourself? There is no universal right answer. Ryan suggests, “Spend some time thinking about what will feel the most nourishing to you that day, and try your best to have things in place to help with self-soothing.” That could range from face masks, to ice cream, to a punching bag, or all the above, whatever will work best for you—no judgment.
As you think about what mental practices will best suit you, don’t be afraid to set boundaries with friends, family, and even with the news. You are not obligated to discuss politics if it’s going to be detrimental to your sanity. The same goes with the news and social media. Dr. Bhuyan says, “Many news and social media platforms are designed to have no natural stopping point––there are always more posts to read, videos to watch, and links to click on. As a result, people need to set intentional parameters about how much they consume.” Setting boundaries is a healthy way to preserve your mental well-being and to help prevent yourself from falling victim to political fatigue. Additionally, Ryan suggests, “Maybe you want to have a set time for when you check in with the results, rather than watching constantly for hours at a time. Spend some time thinking about what will feel the most nourishing to you that day.” It’s all about doing whatever feels right for you. Keep the news on all day or go totally off the grid—no option is better than the other.
It’s also important to try and level your expectations. Dr. Bhuyan says, “Managing expectations is a skill that requires being honest with yourself. While people use polls, predictors, and statisticians, know that there is still a wide realm of possibilities in terms of outcomes.” And keep in mind that just because voting ends on Tuesday does not mean that we will have answers on Tuesday. Rance adds, “There’s a strong chance that we won’t know what the outcome is, and then there’s still going to be that uneasiness until we actually know the results. Suspect that the uneasiness will continue after Election Day, unfortunately.” Try not to set yourself up for failure by expecting all of your anxieties to be resolved within one day.
Do Your Part
Another way to reduce anxiety is to focus on what is in your control. Rance says, “It’s important that people feel that they have done all that they can do in terms of making change happen.” She continues, “If people really feel like they’ve done all they can do in terms of motivating their friends and family to vote, or reach out to states that are more undecided, and really can make an impact; I think that’s how they’ll most feel prepared for the outcome.” Do everything that you need to do, so you can feel at peace and like you’ve done your part—whether that’s phonebanking, talking to family members, posting on social media, volunteering, etc. Oh yeah, and VOTING.
Try Not To Spiral
In the same way that we should moderate our social intake, we should also be conscious of spiraling into a doomsday mentality. Ryan advises, “While it’s important to give ourselves space to process, it’s also incredibly important to recognize when we’re catastrophizing so we can rescale our fears.” She continues, “The first step to stop the catastrophizing and rumination cycle is to recognize when it’s happening. Once we have the awareness we have options to help us move away from it.” If you feel yourself start to spiral, just pause, take a breath, and then pivot to the Pinot, or whatever your self-soothing technique is—again, no judgment. Ryan says, “Distraction, clearing your mind with meditation or breathing exercises, talking to a friend, listening to music, or getting some exercise are some ways we can actively avoid dwelling on worst case scenarios” are all things you can try to calm the f*ck down.
Regardless of Tuesday’s results, it is important to remember that there will still be a Wednesday, a Thursday, a Friday, and an anticipated, hilarious Saturday Night Live. Time will go on, the Earth will keep rotating, and life will continue. I fully understand how pivotal this outcome is and how that can feel. It may seem like a do-or-die, make-or-break moment in time, but that is precisely what this is, a moment in time. As Rance says, “The privilege of voting is something that has been reborn, and people are going to continue to stay passionate, regardless of the outcome on election day.” Hope is not made or broken on November 3rd. The results are what they are. You may not be able to control the outcome, but you can control how you handle it.
Lastly, Dr. Bhuyan recommends, “Try to challenge yourself to see the silver lining in even the most difficult conditions.” Give it a shot. I’ll go first, my silver lining is that election day falls on taco Tuesday, so win or lose, we can still have a margarita, and I will cheers to that.
Images: vesperstocck / Shutterstock.com
Unfortunately for Democrats, the 2018 midterm election yesterday wasn’t exactly the sweeping “blue wave,” that was desired. While democrats had some serious victories, blue waves were met with equally fierce red walls, reminding everyone that loyalty to President Trump is still alarmingly strong. Is there a magical Kool-aid I’m not drinking here? Is Trump using Jafar from Aladdin’s golden serpent to send half the country into a trance? Or, is it just a money > morals situation? We’ll never know.
However, let’s focus on the good because we’re glass-half-full kind of betches. The turnout to the polls is set to be historic, and it’s not just because of Taylor Swift (Thank you for your effort though, Tay). Approximately 114 million voters cast their ballots yesterday in the United States compared to 83 million in 2014. And while President Trump has already declared the election a “huge victory” for Republicans, Democrats now have new tools in the resistance and they’re more powerful than ever in his administration.
1. Democrats Took Over The House
Hell yeah they did. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is hoping to snag the role of Speaker of the House again, said in her victory speech that “tomorrow will be a new day in America.” Yes, Nancy. Statewide wins for Democrats in Wisconsin and Michigan are particularly notable as those are considered states that cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 presidential election.
2. Republicans Kept Control Of The Senate
The senate loss for democrats was, well, a big loss. If house democrats want to impeach Trump, they would be met with a senate who will never go for it. However, democrats weren’t exactly on track to take the senate and there were some truly impressive races, which leads us to…
3. Ted Cruz Beat Beto O’Rourke In Texas, But It Was Close Af
Any candidate who can get Beyoncé to endorse them is alright by me. O’Rourke was adorable and brave, and the race was insanely close. This is huge for Texas, a notoriously red state as O’Rourke got 4,015,082 votes and Cruz landed 4,228,832.
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I’m feeling grateful for everyone before me who fought so hard to give us all the right to have a voice. We can’t voice our frustrations and complain about what’s wrong without voting and exercising our power to make it right. We need you. We all need each other, because when we are truly united we are unstoppable. Sending you all love and positivity on this happy voting day! Every vote counts Every race matters Everywhere.
4. It Was The Year Of The Woman Pt. 2
Praise be. A total of 115 women won national office so far last night. Four of them are veterans and 42 of them are women of color. This is exciting as hell! We might actually be able to prevent the making of “True Life: America Became the Handmaid’s Tale.”
5. There Was A “Rainbow Wave”
Here’s some hope for the future! Last night, we elected the first Muslim women in the House of Representatives with two Democrats: Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar. Also, Democrats Sharice Davids (member of the LGBT community) of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico are the first Native American women in the House of Representatives. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia of Texas will be the first Latinas in the house. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado is the first openly gay governor. Ayanna Pressley will be the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in the house and we got the youngest ever member of congress: 29-year-old millennial treasure, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. All of these people represent a new chapter for the house and for America. Diversity is powerful and hope is on the horizon!
So, while we didn’t wake up to a totally new country, last night was a powerful effort and an overall step in the right direction.
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