The 2012 presidential election is over and, regardless of your reaction to the outcome, the world hasn’t been magically transformed into an accepting, peace-loving utopia. I think we can all be relieved to say good-bye to all of the political ads, but the fact is we still have a lot of work to do.
One presidential election being over is really no reason to stop being vocal about politics. I think so many of us tuned out for a couple of years after the 2008 election, then were surprised when things didn’t go exactly as we wanted to (even though they went pretty damn well).
On Election Day, I saw a lot of my young adult friends on social media mocking elections, politics, and the concept of actually giving a shit. When exactly did it become cool not to care about politics, about the future of the world we live in? And now that the election is over, so many people I know are “so excited to stop seeing political statuses on Facebook” and are happy that life can “go back to normal.” While we can certainly stop frantically advocating for our candidate and nervously awaiting the results, we should still be concerned, informed, and vocal about politics. The issues are all still there. Why are we more excited to see poorly Instagramed photos of shitty take-out, pictures of peoples’ pets, and arguments about sports rivalries than political conversations that deal with the futures, well-being, safety, and rights of everyone in this country? Why can’t a constant investment in the direction of our nation and its place in the world be “normal?”
I am so happy about the outcome of this election. Not only was the only viable candidate who supported my rights as a queer woman re-elected for President, but we saw many victories all over the country. But I’m not excited for Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter to “go back to normal,” nor am I really looking forward to most of my day-to-day interactions with friends to drop politics from the conversation. While I was getting tired of those political ads and truthfully did a lot of face palms, I really loved this election year because so many people actually cared, and cared so much. I wish more people genuinely cared all year, every year.
And if political posts on social media really bother us more than hearing about what kind of fancy coffee our friends bought today, if acting like being invested in this country’s future is too earnest or mainstream of us, I think it’s time to re-examine our priorities.
All of the social issues are largely still there and we can’t expect that Obama’s presidency will solve all of our remaining economic problems while we, many of us so passionate and so vocal in his favor these past months, fall silent. Yes, this election has been grueling; it’s been taxing and nerve-wracking and honestly pretty scary for a lot of us. I’m not asking that we keep up the pace from that homestretch sprint for the next four years. But keeping Obama in office is really only ensuring that we are more capable of continuing in the right direction as opposed to moving backwards, not a guarantee that everything will work out without our help.
We still have a lot of work to do.