People who know me may have been wondering why I was not writing furiously about the election during the run up over the last week or the results that we know now. The fact is, I like to take my time to digest and contextualize these things myself before I consider attempting to verbalize my thoughts on the matter.
I consider politics a necessity in a free and democratic society. And I use the word democratic broadly to mean a society in which leaders are selected in some way involving the popular vote of the people, that is respected by those leaders. Like most of the world’s democracies, America’s society has been becoming less democratic over the last decade or so. It is important to remember that we are not unique. At the same time, it is also important to remember that people around the world do look toward America for democratic leadership. If we fail, the rest of the world will likely follow; this position is a blessing and a curse.
So we had a relatively event-free election. No discernable meddling by foreign actors, no extreme propaganda (beyond that which is “normal”), no terrorist attacks. We made it. Not only that, but it seems that despite all the polls and all the gerrymandering, many people did come out and vote for the democratic party candidates, blunting the so-called “red wave” that was supposed to sweep across the country, bringing a majority of Republicans to the capitol from far and wide. That just didn’t happen.
While we don’t have full results yet, democrats absolutely outperformed expectations. The pundits have been scrambling over each other to identify the “root cause,” the specific REASON that voters were so inclined, even in supposedly safe republican districts and states. The fact is the reasons are likely as diverse as our population as a whole. People choose to vote or not based on level of cynicism, but once they decide to vote, given accurate information, I have incredible confidence in each person’s ability to vote in accordance with their own values. I am pleased to know that it appears more people share values with me than those who do not.
While we continue to wait to hear whether the Senate and even the House remains closely divided or firmly in the hands of one or the other party, we can at least rest for a short while before moving on to fight the next fight. Democracy doesn’t only need us for elections; we must be active and participatory year round. Get involved with a local party or issue advocacy group. Attend a city council or school board meeting. Witness what it takes to perform those roles effectively, whether they are paid or volunteer. And if you don’t like what you see, consider planning and mounting a campaign for the next opportunity. Why not you?
Like most things in life, democracy shifts and moves. It changes shape and grows/shrinks based on our involvement. You CAN make a difference. What your country looks like, how responsive leaders are and what issues they prioritize for action is absolutely still under our control, at least the collective “our.” We can turn the Titanic away from the iceberg that is fascism. Just keep working.