We have a responsibility to be ready for November 4th
Everyone who is working their tail off on the election, from individual campaigns to folks working to safeguard the vote, deserves a socially distant hug.
The most important thing right now is to make sure GOTV efforts are successful, all votes are counted, and that there is an uncontested victory.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
As I write this, New/Mode is being used by causes and organizations to build powerful public support for vote by mail, safe schools, COVID measures, climate justice, and racial justice, as well as to prevent gerrymandering, massive corporate bailouts, and more. Here’s Elizabeth Warren using New/Mode to demand safe and easy voting in every state.
I’m incredibly grateful to everyone working on this massive pre-November 3rd effort, but I’m very concerned that what comes next might require significantly more effort. Like many of you, my head and heart hurt thinking about it, yet we must.
The election result may be significantly delayed, contested, or both. Experts are saying we should brace ourselves for an election season rather than an election day.
For example, there’s a chance that some Governors may acclaim the results before mail-in ballots are properly counted. If you want to dig in on the differing scenarios or implications of all this, I suggest this article and/or this short news clip.
Photo by Spenser on Unsplash
With a clear result, there are still concerns about what will happen between election day and a potential transition of power on January 20, 2021.
It is crucial that the transition period and the essential first 100 days of the next administration are shaped by real people in our communities – not corporations, billionaires, or corrupt decision-makers.
From affordable healthcare, immigration reform, climate justice, racial justice, worker rights, reproductive freedom, LGBTQ2I+ rights, and a range of other key issues — as practitioners of civic engagement and keepers of community, we have to be ready to act in this historical moment.
If you run campaigns, or can influence the digital content and tactics of an NGO, charity, labour union, electoral campaign, or responsible business — this is a call to action for you. We need to be ready to mobilize.
That means we have to engage with as many people as possible, build consensus around the needs of our communities, and connect supporters with decision-makers at every level of government.
Photo by Miracle Peleti on Unsplash
Here’s how we do it:
1. We collectively wield a very powerful communications channel:
Our media environment, in the service of concentrated power, will be part of the challenge in this moment. Facebook in particular is amplifying disinformation and other divisive content. Our rage is more profitable to these platforms than facts, empathy, or cooperation.
Together, as causes and communities, we collectively operate an important countervailing communications channel, and we can ensure it’s used effectively to shape our world in fundamental ways for generations.
Think about the email, SMS, social media, and other online communities we collectively manage, comprising millions of people in the US and hundreds of millions around the world. That’s enough people to shift consensus and counteract undemocratic rule everywhere.
If there was ever a time to fully utilize this shared communications channel, now would be that time.
2. We have to go bigger than ever:
Respecting and upholding valid results of any election is a non-partisan issue.
Organizations that normally shy away from advocacy are mobilizing their supporters on issues that affect lives and livelihoods.
That’s good because this moment will take everyone.
This article by a trio of civil unrest experts reminds us that all governments ultimately depend on the consent and cooperation of ordinary people to stay in power. We need to engage huge numbers to show anti-democratic activity is fundamentally illegitimate.
3. We have to be ready to act fast:
Part of what the experts make clear is that if any election is contested the sooner mass movements assert pressure, the more democracy is likely to be restored.
Let’s remember how public opinion moved and opened up space for change in the Black Lives Matter movement this spring. Black-led communities, organizations, and those taking to the streets deserve full credit for that shift in institutions, policy, and public consciousness in recent months. Organizations like Greenpeace USA, that historically mobilize their community on environmental justice, supported with a direct action to hold George Floyd’s murderer accountable.
We need to be ready to do the same thing in the coming weeks, and we should be ready to step up and support those who are leading the charge through projects and coalitions like the Protect The Results coalition, which is already 100 organizations strong.
4. We have to engage strategically:
We have to get our communications and tactics right. We can start by looking at Race Class Narrative and the 240+ planned events supported by the Protect The Results coalition. Beyond that, we have to empower our supporters to pressure their previous or newly elected representatives at every level, as well as businesses and others with public power or influence.
The right messages need to get to the right people. This isn’t a time to rely on passive social media or symbolic online engagement.
Photo by Joshua Koblin on Unsplash
Where do we fit when elections go smoothly?
In these hopeful scenarios, we still need to make sure there’s a proper transition of power, and that lame duck politicians do not undermine democratic institutions, or the causes and communities we care about.
We’ll also need to ensure our issues are at the top of the agenda for the first 100 days of the next administration. Families are being torn apart, people are losing their lives amidst the global pandemic, BIPOC communities continue to face systemic violence, we’re in a climate emergency — the day after the election is an essential moment for mobilization in the best of cases.
Let’s commit to the following right now.
- Empower people, communities, causes, and institutions to defend democracy and the results of this election, starting with ensuring mail-in ballots are counted.
- Mobilize against any move towards fascism and autocratic rule.
- Make sure the issues you care about are a part of the 100-day agenda.
Let’s be clear eyed about this: the authoritarian forces at play at this moment are unfortunately present in many places around the world today. We need to turn the tide, and this is the place to dig in right now.
Are you here for this?
In the coming weeks, New/Mode and several other partners will be hosting a roundtable discussion with leading strategists to brainstorm organizing and advocacy plans for the post-election reality. We’ll also invite speakers and participants to share tips for making sure their issue(s) are top of mind for the first 100 days of a new administration. See below for more details!
Outside of that, my colleagues and I at New/Mode are also always here to talk about how we can support your campaign work.
How our communities wield our collective communications power could halt the malignant spread of authoritarianism and help us begin to build a fairer, more empathic, and just world.
At New/Mode, we are privileged to see the power of digital engagement and mobilizing on a regular basis. We feel a deep sense of responsibility to be of service in this moment. We hope you do too.
📢 Join us on Nov. 10, 2020 for a special roundtable discussion, Beyond Nov. 3rd: Critical Issue Advocacy in the Days, Weeks and Months Following the U.S. Election. RSVP now to hear panelists from Mobilize, Countable and more!