Almost every election day brings me a mix of goosebumps, victories, tears and fears. After Tuesday’s election, I can’t help but reflect on the impact of fear in elections.
People don’t base their votes on facts- if they did, millions of Americans would not vote against their own best interests. Our votes are more likely based on emotion, often fear or anger. With our economy in the dumps, people have a right to be angry and it’s easy for folks to be confused as to who is to blame. Folks across the country are following the blaming fingers of hate mongers as they point a finger at everyone from immigrants to the Government to people who believe that everyone should have health care.
People are misplacing their anger at the wrong places. Former-President Bush accumulated upwards of 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits. His administration’s policies on trade led to the out-sourcing of 6 million American jobs. And the Bush years lack of regulation led to the economic recession we currently face. So why is it so easy for so many to be angry with Obama and the Democrats?
I am not saying that there isn’t a valid and necessary critique and analysis of the first two years of the Obama White House. But we have to start seeing the promised change where it has come or else we just fuel the fire of the fear-mongers.
I don’t love every decision and action of my Government; never have, probably never will. But I am not confused at who to blame. The problem isn’t any one party or politician or even any one corporation. It’s decades and centuries of systemic injustice that prevents all people and communities in the United States from being able to thrive.
In the ten months since I have joined the team at the Ella Baker Center, I have learned a lot about moving from fear to love. Instead of basing policies and our election day decisions on fear, we want to build a society where decisions are made based on love and our common concerns.
And it can work. When Proposition 23 first showed up, people feared they had to choose between good jobs and the environment. Fear drove support of the Dirty Energy Prop. To counter that fear and protect California’s future, we were part of launching Communities United.
This coalition refused to play the fear-fame and instead worked to trigger different emotions — the feelings of love and protection that folks of color and our allies have for our children, our environment and our economy. That helped us ensure that the future of California is one that puts people and the planet ahead of Big Oil’s profits as Prop 23 was soundly defeated on election day.
I admit, that some of the election’s results have me real scared. I can tend to be a bit of a Debbie-Downer when looking at the state of our world. I focus too much on the “what-ifs” and not enough on the “what is possible.” This approach doesn’t serve me. So I am challening myself to follow the lead of Jakada Imani, Nicole Lee, Van Jones, and Miss Ella Jo Baker, herself, to change my way of thinking. If we can come together to promote love-based decision making, we will stand up against fear-based voting.
Is there one thing you can commit to that promotes love-based decisions over fear-fueled politics? How have you incorporated a love-based practice into your activism? I’d love your ideas as I start my own journey towards more love and less fear.