Midterm balance gains

If you’re blue, you might not be totally thrilled with the outcome of the midterm election. If you’re red, green, or in between, the same goes. From a bipartisan perspective, our newly-balanced Congress is good news for our struggling democracy.

A balanced Congress means there’s accountability, more checks and balances, and more opportunity for collaboration across the aisle and within parties. Balance is good. Democracy thrives not when one party controls the narrative, but when public-good agendas are brought to the table. Compromise becomes possible, but we have to encourage our newly-elected officials to work at it.

This balance come in part to the ever-more diverse people serving as our representatives. We now have more women, Native American, Latinx, Black, Muslim, gay, lesbian voices adding depth and values to national discussions on our most pressing problems. It’s an exciting time for our democracy.

We’re concerned about voting problems

If you paid attention to close races in several districts and states, you will have noticed a concerning trend of dishonesty and even blatant threats to democratic voting norms. Four-hour wait times, closed voting places, uncounted ballots are all examples of voter disenfranchisement and oppression out in the open.

Voting is the bedrock of a democracy. Since voting access is one of the AoC Checklist’s four primary areas of focus, we’re on it. Our Voting Team is currently creating an even more focused agenda to address this widespread injustice. We envision a ballot in every hand and every ballot counted, fairly and securely. Our new plan will include actions to empower voters in 2020, 2022, and beyond. So stay tuned!

Now what do we do?

Now that the midterms are over, you may not know how or where to focus–especially with all the recent breaking (and heart-breaking) news. If that’s you, allow me to offer a reflection.

Last week, I had the distinct honor to hear Tarana Burke speak at the YBCA 100 Summit in San Francisco. Although she’s credited with being the founder of the “me too.” movement, Tarana has the long-view perspective of one working for social justice for decades. The moderator asked her, “What will you do on Wednesday?” (The day after the election.) She paused, took a breath, and said, “I’m going to continue working toward the same things I was the day before.”

This wisdom is pure gold. Do the next thing. Focus on what’s important. While the elections were an important redirection for our country, they do not magically fix everything. On Wednesday, the same people, money, and systems that elected our current president–that keep some citizens at arm’s length from opportunity and equality–are still present.

She also laughingly admitted that there are days where she eats frosted flakes for dinner and binge-watches Law and Order as a form of self care. No lie. This work is hard, so be gentle on yourself.

So, if you’re unsure how to proceed, pause a moment to reflect and remember what is important to you and your community. Recommit to doing that. Take time out when you need it. Like Tarana said, continue working on the same things as before.

Justice is a journey worth showing up for. Cold cereal optional.

Stay on this journey. Speak up for what’s important.
Thank you for continuing to show up. Your voice matters.
— Jen Hofmann, Americans of Conscience 

P.S. sign up here to speak up for our democracy.

Awesome artivist art by Ernesto Yurina of Amplifier