On This Heavy Get Out The Vote Weekend — Keep Feeling!
(Above photo features Ashlee Marie Preston: activist and the first trans person to run for state office, featured on the episode “Inside the Candidate Experience”)
By Kate Werning
This past week has been full of incessant attacks. We join in grief and rage for the Black and Jewish lives lost in Louisville and Pittsburgh, and for the safety and dignity of our immigrant, transgender, and progressive family that has been threatened. The political stakes of this election as well as this era in our history continue to be made abundantly clear.
There is SO much to do to respond: rapid response work like the inspiring #WeAreHere action in NYC on Tuesday, and the massive work of the final Get Out The Vote sprint nationwide. Wherever you’re engaging, this is a week where we must use our time and energy incredibly wisely.
So that’s why it’s critical that we remember what adrienne maree brown teaches us: “There is always enough time for the right work.”
As we are feeling the pressure, fear, rage, numbness, and grief of these times, so is everyone else in their own way. Even in the sprint of necessary action, we can make 15 minutes of space to connect with our family or friends, our volunteers, or our teams to name how we’re feeling amidst all this tragedy. We can light a candle and sing a song. We can incorporate some feeling and connecting before pushing into action — because that feeling is a source of power that will fuel us through the work we want to carry out these next few days.
As a practical example, organizers in NYC have even added mini massage stations, healthy snacks, stretch breaks, and relational check-ins for volunteers to their phone banks for progressive candidates — and have broken call volume records at the same time! Feeling and connection, and focused action are not at odds – they power one another.
If you have the good fortune of living in a place where there is an awesome candidate to be optimistic and energized about (like Stacey Abrams, who shared candidly on the podcast this week), we join you in hope for a good result, and also in putting in work toward that end. For my part, I’ll be in Pennsylvania knocking doors with Jess King’s visionary campaign this weekend – you can hear from their campaign manager about why what they’re doing is unique here.
And if you’re feeling despair about the limitations of our electoral system to deliver us the future we deserve, you are not alone. It’s so understandable, and also so important to engage in voting November 6th (if you have that privilege) at the very least as a harm reduction tactic that may help mitigate some degree of political hostility we face as we continue to organize. Some of the questions listeners submitted for our “Surviving Elections” miniseries trailer episode get right to the heart of some of that feeling.
And let’s remember together that the work, and our lives, continue on November 7th. I remember all too well what it felt like to not quite know where to go for support on the day after the 2016 election. It was as if I had planned my life up until that day, and it hadn’t occurred to me what I would need beyond that. I hope this outcome and the related emotions will be quite different these midterms, but no matter how much is won or lost, there are always layers to unpack. That’s why we’ve been working on a day-after election podcast episode all about processing Victory & Loss, featuring the wise perspectives of Alexandra Rojas (Justice Democrats), Barbara Dudley (lifelong organizer in movement work since the Vietnam War & the Black Panthers), and Maurice Mitchell (Working Families Party). Join our email list here to get that episode in your inbox.
Take a moment to plan now for something you can do on November 7th to support your physical and mental health. Arrange to be in community however you can. We can’t take on understanding our changing world alone.
So as we approach Election Day, please take some time for yourself and your crew to feel and connect — there is always enough time for that right work. Wishing you the most success over the next few days.
Kate Werning is a community organizer & host of Healing Justice Podcast