Six ways to keep up civic engagement past the presidential election

Two+attendees+listen+to+the+Count+Every+Vote+rally+at+Boston+Common+on+Wednesday.

Media: Lizzie Heintz

Two attendees listen to the Count Every Vote rally at Boston Common on Wednesday.

By Editorial Board

The election may be over, but our job as students, citizens, and politically engaged people is not.

In fact, voting during a presidential election year is the bare minimum. It’s important to keep fighting for our principles and beliefs regardless of who the people in power are when the dust settles this week. The 2016 election forced us to draw the direct line between politics and our lives if we hadn’t already. Here are just a few things you can do to stay civically engaged until and after Inauguration Day:

  1. Vote in local and state elections: Legislations far smaller than the executive office decide the fate of ballot propositions and laws that impact the ins and outs of our lives, like taxes and abortion. Democracy doesn’t start and end at the White House. So it’s unacceptable that so many of us pat ourselves on the back for casting our ballot for president and then find excuses not to research city councilors, mayors, state senators, and the like. More often than not, these next few years, Joe Biden or Donald Trump will not be directly responsible for your individual rights. But local legislators will be. 
  2. Organize and attend: If you’ve shown up for demonstrations and rallies these past few months, good. It doesn’t end there. It’s time to keep supporting movements that align with your values. These coming months, respond “yes” to the Facebook events you see popping up online. Volunteer to make signs and give out water at protests. Share information with your family, friends, and peers. Write about it. Read about it. 
  3. Donate to causes working to help underrepresented communities: If you don’t have the time or ability to physically show up, you can always financially support causes that do. Giving money to mutual aid networks, civil rights organizations, LGBTQ rights, climate change charities, and campaigns are all great ways to be involved. In Boston, Black Boston 2020, ACLU Massachusetts, and Dorchester Art Project are just three of many, many places that would put your money to good use. 
  4. Join the Boston Intercollegiate Government (BIG): Founded nearly two decades ago, the BIG is a student-led governance organization of the Greater Boston Area that advocates for student interests on local, state, and federal levels. During this year’s election season, the organization invited guest speakers, including U.S. Senator Ed Markey, to discuss the issues impacting youth voters. You can connect with the group, join the conversations, and continue to safeguard student-representative democracy. 
  5. Use social media to raise political awareness: Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are necessary evils at this point. But that doesn’t mean they can’t also be used for good. These last few years, social media evolved into a major influence over young voters, who use platforms to voice dissent. One study at Tufts University has shown that using social media to engage in politics and civic conversations online translated to offline activism during the 2018 midterm elections. Many have posted or shared petitions and initiatives on social media to support the Black Lives Matter movement across the country. Beyond this year’s election, if young people continue to use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat to promote initiatives, the surge to make other youth politically aware will come as a result.  
  6. Vote in SGA elections: Participating in the SGA election season is one way to let the candidates know the issues you care about at Emerson and how they can make positive impacts on student life and the school community. When election season rolls around on campus, pay attention to student campaigns in order to help elect the student leaders who will promote key values you believe in. SGA members may not have the easiest path towards changing college policy, but they handle enough money and represent students enough to deserve broad voting support from those they look out for. 

The election is a reminder that we are still part of the community. It’s easy to feel powerless thinking about what will come of the next four years, but it will feel even more hopeless if we don’t help to create the changes we want. Stay safe and healthy, and do what we can do after the presidential election and beyond.

The Berkeley Beacon Editorial Board is the voice of the student newspaper that looks to serve the Emerson College community with thoughtful insight into ongoings and occurrences affecting their everyday lives. The board’s positions are determined by its members. The board consists of the editor-in-chief, managing editors, and opinion editors. The opinions expressed by the Editorial Board do not impact the paper’s coverage. You can respond to a position brought forward by The Beacon Editorial Board in the form of a Letter to The Editor by email: [email protected].

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