Now That the Polls Are Closed

I was going to start writing this post earlier today, before the Big News, and it would have been a little bit different. After finding out that decency and democracy and so many other important things won today (WOOT AND YAY JOE AND KAMALA AND ALL OF US!), I’m pivoting. Just a little bit.

Did I mention how excited I am that Joe Biden is now our President-elect and Kamala Harris is now our Vice President-elect? No? I AM THRILLED.

The first thing I plan to do is enjoy this feeling for a couple of days. Let’s all do that. We deserve to celebrate! This is a wonderful thing! Brighter days are ahead, not just in a broad way for me and my loved ones and the general public but specifically for so many people in our country who were being stifled and mistreated by the current administration. We have, time and time again, seen who Joe Biden is. He cares. He wants to get things done for all Americans whether he had their vote or not. He wants to work with people who don’t have the same opinions that are in his head. He is open to listening, learning, and correcting his mistakes.

After basking in it and also hopefully getting some sleep for once, it’s time to get to work. This is where I will give you the option of continuing to read, or bookmarking and returning after you party your face off in whatever way you choose.

*plays “Jeopardy!” music*

Decided to stay, huh? Great. First, we have two run-off races in Georgia that Democrats (Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff) need to win in order to gain control of the Senate. If we don’t win control, it will be much harder for Joe and Kamala to get anything done. I mean, have you met Mitch McConnell? I plan to write letters with Vote Forward and also do some textbanking. I’ve signed up to get information from Fair Fight, which is the organization that Stacey Abrams founded “to ensure every American has a voice in our election system.”

But wait! There’s more! Joe and Kamala can’t do this alone, even if we win control of the Senate. We are still a very divided country, with way too much racism and discrimination. Systems need to be changed in order to be the America that we want (I wrote about this in my last post). Things that the outgoing administration changed, taking us back decades, need to be fixed. There’s work to do, plenty to go around. America is not going to rebuild itself. As President-elect Biden said earlier today, “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.” And it’s going to take time. Don’t come to me on Day 101 of the Biden administration complaining that he hasn’t done enough. He has signed on to renovate a money pit and it’s going to be a while before we can even think about what kind of kitchen countertops we want.

Here is just a starter list of ideas for what you can busy yourself with as a productive and involved American citizen, beyond the Georgia Senate runoffs in January:

  1. Start researching Senators who are up for reelection in 2022. Become familiar with those senators and the people running against them and then consider donating or volunteering to help. Oh wait! I did the research for you. It’s all right here on this non-partisan page. (Scroll down to the map.)
  2. Start researching your local political scene: upcoming candidates, organizations, and events. I know we’re so tired from this week and frankly from the past four years but if we don’t stay awake and involved, we’re going to continue to have older white guy candidates and office-holders, and nobody wants that. It starts in the local races.
  3. There is a racism problem in America. It’s going to take everything we have to educate and communicate (and frankly, deprogram in certain cases) as much as we need to, to make sure that Black citizens and citizens of color are treated with the fairness and justice that they deserve and that they are given the access to opportunities that they deserve. How much is that? The same as white people, and frankly if we truly want to fix this, more until we have succeeded. A few months ago I made a partial list of anti-racism resources. Go pick a few, and let’s get busy.
  4. The LGBTQ community could use our help too, after four years of assault by the outgoing administration. I don’t have a list for this group but will create one and post it. In the meantime all you have to do is google “LGBTQ organizations.” Oh wait! I did the research for you. Check out this GLAAD list. You can even add “local” to that search and get more specific. (I can’t do that for you.)
  5. Is there an issue that you care a lot about, but can’t imagine how you could possibly help? Google is your friend. There’s an organization for just about everything, and there are countless ways to get involved.
  6. Shop locally. Since we’re in this pandemic fight for a while yet, businesses are suffering. The mom and pop businesses we love so much, as creative as many have become since spring, are taking a huge hit. Make sure to shop there, or order food from them, or whatever, and if you have the opportunity to leave a tip, be as generous as you can.
  7. Stay active and healthy. I know I know, we’re stuck at home so much. But you can still go outside and take a walk! Put a mask in your pocket in case other people are on the path, and just get moving. Keeping our minds and bodies healthy is always important, especially right now, and we can get more done for our community when we’re feeling good.
  8. Give to organizations that serve at-risk communities and those serving on the front lines.
  9. See what you can safely do to help the elderly. Or your neighbors. Or your elderly neighbors. As the weather gets colder I’m going to go back to porch-dropping goodies like I was doing in the spring. Making other people smile will help you, I promise.
  10. Look for the good. This pandemic is getting old (GETTING OLD?? I know I know. It’s old.), and even with Biden in the White House the road ahead can seem daunting. It’s important for our mental health to stay connected, celebrate all wins big and small, and find things to be grateful for daily. For many people, this year has been a great one in the sense that they got to spend more time with their kids than ever before because of working outside the home, or they adopted a pet because suddenly they were working remotely, or they learned new skills, or they got some home renovations done, or they got to wear sweatpants more often. The positive stuff is all there: you just have to find it.

As I mentioned, that’s just a partial list that took me a few minutes to create. I know that each of you has something that you have spent time here and there thinking about how it could be improved or what you could do if you got involved. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and come together to do the work. My personal plan, beyond what I already mentioned? I just became a monthly donor to a local organization founded by six Black women who want to provide loans to local Black start-ups. I plan to start following Knoxville Democrats more closely to watch for things I can do from home for now and out in town when it’s safer. I plan to get involved in KnoxPride, our local LGBTQ organization. And I plan to see what I can do to help get more Democrats in the Senate in 2022. That’s my starting point. Now it’s your turn!

But maybe go have some cake, the drink of your choice, and a well-deserved night or three of sleep first.

3 Comments

  • Karen Meg

    What an awesome post, you go get it girl! So very happy for this result, for you all, my American friends and honestly, the world. To see jubilation on screens for the first time in such a very long time – exquisite!

  • Cheryl

    You are SO GOOD at reminding us all of even the little things we can be doing that help further us all – even if that’s taking a walk so that we can then be a better version of ourselves for the next task. Thank you Melisa!

  • angela

    I’ve said it before, but you are truly a gift. This is such a great list, and I love that you included big things and small things, things that help outside of ourselves and things that help us. You’re right that there’s so much work to do, but these steps get us a little closer each day.

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