I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.
- John Adams
With 4 days until the election I have something heavy weighing on my mind. Yes, I’m concerned with whether or not Barack Obama will prevail and thus be given another four years to guide this country in the right direction. Yes, I’m sinking under the weight of wondering how next Tuesday will affect the next steps and possible set backs of the civil rights battles of our time. I undeniably lose sleep thinking about what will happen to reproductive choice and how we will keep the gears turning to ensure access to safe and legal abortion if Mitt Romney and his army of thieves and robbers seize power in four days. But something else is nibbling at the back of my mind and only seems to grow in intensity with each passing day. What the hell will we all talk about after next week?
Now, let’s not be too dramatic. We’ve got at least a week following the election to analyze, dissect and re-hash the events of Tuesday. But after that - what’s next? My friends and I have lost all ability to have a conversation that doesn’t some how turn to the election. Granted, a lot of us work on the political side of reproductive health care, working to protect access to affordable basic services for folks. We also have a tendency to get swept up in a fervor every couple of years and lose all touch with real life, hobbies, relationships and the goings on of friends outside of our bubble (am I just speaking for myself here?). Either way, the question persists: what will we all focus once the election hang over wears off?
The truth is that political conversation won’t become any less important after this election is over with. Issues of access and justice won’t become any less pressing and our work, both professionally and personally, will continue to require commitment, passion and heavy boots on the ground. The hardest part will not be in finding something to talk about but rather, finding someone to talk about it with. For social justice advocates, thinkers and activists, something exciting happens every four years: the whole country joins in the conversation. I wish I could say this happened every time a local election came up, but we all know that most people don’t engage on local issues, even though they often have a more direct effect on our lives.
Once America goes back to its routine and some folks take a nap, we will need to fight to keep a conversation alive and moving forward, branching out and taking the complicated turns that true issues of social equality and justice require. We need to do better than parsing through political talking points over beers at a bar or getting excited over Obama bumperstickers despite the fact that not 6 months ago we were complaining about how shitty parts of his presidency had turned out to be. We need to foster new and engaging ways of talking about what matters most. The work of the folks at CultureStrike and the ready ability to tell use web-based storytelling around an issue like that done via Storify prove that we can keep these kinds of personal politics at the forefront of our conversations in interesting and engaging ways. In fact, I suspect the way might look a whole lot clearer with the clutter of a Presidential election finally out of the way.