November 12, 2020 | Lifestyle
the fight is far from over
post-election action items
Last Saturday, after many days of following the presidential race, it was finally announced that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next president and vice president of the United States. For many, this was a relief from what felt like four years of constant negative news. However, even with this supposedly better result, the fight is far from over. We are not going to change anything through presidential elections alone. What we need to do now is channel our energy into many other avenues of civic engagement—avenues that thousands of people around the country are already putting their energy into. Here is a list of just a few potential post-election action items.
Georgia Senate Runoff Elections
Georgia may have turned blue in the presidential race, but its two Democratic Senate candidates haven’t yet won their races. Unless a candidate gets 50% or more of the votes, the top two vote-earners have to compete in a runoff election on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. This happened in both of the Senate races this last Election Day. Senator David Perdue and Senator Kelly Loeffler are the Republican incumbents, and Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are their Democratic challengers. Warnock’s and Ossoff’s victories would mean a 50-50 split in the Senate, allowing Kamala Harris, as vice president, to cast a tie-breaking vote to pass legislation. TL;DR: The Senate runoff elections in Georgia are very important, and there are ways that you can help!
If you live in Georgia and are turning 18 by January 5, then you should definitely register to vote by December 7 if you haven’t already done so. You can also donate to the Democratic candidates, Ossoff and Warnock. And there are ways to work, either in-person or remotely, with Fair Fight Action, the organization founded by Stacey Abrams in 2018 to address voter suppression.
Hold Elected Officials Accountable
This is not the time to sit back and relax. This is not a time to “stan” Biden and Harris. A switch from a Republican president to a Democratic president does not mean the world is suddenly saved and at peace. The Obama administration initiated the practice of putting kids in cages at the border, and while liberals at the time didn’t seem to care—at least on a visibly public level—they started to when Trump continued this same practice. These newly elected officials are not any less subject to the influence of wealth, the police state, the military-industrial complex, etc. These are all problems that have been built into the political system of the United States since its founding. Just as we held Trump and his administration accountable, so too must we hold these newly elected officials accountable. Holding them accountable doesn’t just mean voting them out of office every few years, but also means organizing on local and national levels. It means continuing to call, to petition, to protest, and to start conversations with people around you. Without this continued drive, the officials we elected will most likely continue to endanger marginalized communities. Please keep paying attention and taking action.
Supporting Mutual Aid Projects
Mutual aid projects are a form of civic engagement where people take responsibility for caring for one another, changing political conditions, and showing solidarity. Mutual aid groups are open for all to participate in, emphasizing a non-hierarchical and non-bureaucratic structure where members control all resources as opposed to charities which follow a top-down approach and are ruled by government regulations that impose eligibility criteria, limiting the people that can receive help. Mutual aid groups seek immediate results that are beneficial to all members of the groups, making it their first priority to help those who need it most and not relying on the lengthy and tired process of attempting to convince politicians and corporations to care about them. You can help these mutual aid groups by donating money, material goods, or services. There are tons of mutual aid projects, so it might be best to start with researching to find the ones closest to you.
Appreciating and Supporting BIPOC
During this election cycle, it became clearer than ever that the organizing of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color is what enabled Biden and Harris to win the election. Look at the Navajo Nation, and you’ll find that their turnout rate increased and that 97% of them voted for Biden. In Georgia, Stacey Abrams, Helen Butler, Nsé Ufot, Deborah Scott, Tamieka Atkins, and many other Black women helped register more than 800,000 new Georgia voters. We need to support and appreciate these women and countless other BIPOC organizers by continuing to listen to their voices. While people of color carried Biden to victory in many swing states, 55% of white women and 58% of white men voted for Trump. Our communities need to learn to support and listen to the BIPOC, and not only after an election or some other grand victory, either. It should be every day, and it should not decrease just because of this “victory.” Black lives still matter. Indigenous people still need their land back. Lots of work must continue, and it starts with everyday appreciation and support.
The electoral system in the United States was always an exclusionary system, barring people of color, women, youth, and many others from participating in elections, and this is still largely the case today. Incarcerated people cannot vote in most states, young people cannot vote, and people living in American territories cannot vote. While it can be important to participate in the electoral system—like by helping with Georgia’s senate runoff elections—it is even more important to participate outside of it. Only then can change truly happen.