When I first discovered the @SettleforBiden Instagram and the subsequent “you can’t vote out fascism” counterculture, I found it hard to side with either perspective. It’s not that I tolerate fascism, nor did it bring a smile to my face to vote for Biden, but it’s hard to understand the nuance of electoral politics in five-slide carousel posts or a scathing, short-lived Instagram story. Biden is not the savior of progressivism whose election will dismantle the harms of patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism and an unfair political system. That being said, I still voted for him.
In a previous article, I made a list of six ways to volunteer during the election. I stand by what I said, but any discussion of voting would be incomplete without a discussion of action actions that complement voting. Electoral politics is not the only step, nor is it the most important step — but when voting is used in conjunction with protesting, mutual aid and civic engagement, it can be an effective political action tool. For those who have finished phone banking and poll working but still have a desire to change our political system, here are six actions that you can take to mobilize after the 2020 election.
- Protesting: Protesting is an action that many of us are most familiar with and have engaged in already this year. Many larger cities, especially those in swing states, should expect protests to erupt in response to the election being called. It is more important than ever for white and straight allies to show up for marginalized communities at these events. This can translate to physically being present at a protest, or donating supplies to support protestors’ health and safety. For those who aren’t on campus right now, you can find rallies near you here. For those who are on campus, there will be a Car Caravan Protest organized by Abolish Stanford on Nov. 13 at 3 p.m.
- Donate to bail funds: Bail funds are a necessary component of protesting in 2020. As seen with the civil unrest earlier this year, thousands of protestors were detained for nonviolent infractions like violating curfew and failure to disperse. Not only is this traumatic, but also it is expensive. Protestors were expected to pay bail, fines, booking fees, attorney’s fees, and more. Bail funds are imperative at a time like this because for many activists and organizers, paying them is not feasible. If you have the resources, donating to a local bail fund is a great step to help protestors.
- Participate in mutual aid: Mutual aid is a political action that addresses the shortcomings of charities and nonprofits. This involves people in a community working together to meet the needs of those in the community. Mutual aid is largely dependent on volunteers, so the best ways to get involved would be either volunteering or donating to local mutual aid funds. Whether you’re interested in healthcare, education or anything in between, there are mutual aid organizations in most cities — and in the Stanford community — that address unmet needs. A great organization to plug into on campus is the Stanford Basic Needs Fund through the Basic Needs Coalition @Stanford. Generally, more information on Stanford mutual aid efforts can be found here.
- Community fridges: Community fridges are an emerging example of mutual aid that specifically focuses on food insecurity at a time when the U.S. sees significant unemployment. These fridges are not intended to be a long-term solution to hunger, but they offer access to quality food in food deserts and operate as social spaces for communities. Once again, the point of mutual aid is not charity, so they are intended to be run and used within a community. If you are interested and have one in your community, I recommend volunteering your time or resources to help maintain the fridge. This service is a prime example of an action you can take to address immediate needs while also advocating for policies that eliminate systemic food insecurity.
- Contacting your representatives: Throughout this election, I’ve often heard the phrase, “We’re going to elect Joe Biden (or any other less-than-ideal candidate), and then we’re going to hold him accountable.” The most immediate way to do so is to call your representative, your senator, your mayor and urge them to support or oppose legislation. Especially in the case of more obscure policy, a handful of calls can be the difference between a senator voting yes or no on a bill. Calling may seem scary, but it is wildly more effective than email, and there are scripts available online that can help you with the process. Ultimately, a call as simple as, “I’m Mikayla Tillery, and my zip code is 16001. Protect the International Affairs Budget” — and it will be reflected on your congressperson’s constituent report and can impact the way they vote.
- Attending virtual events: At a place like Stanford, there is no shortage of events to learn more about issues that affect marginalized communities. Leading up to the election, several incredible panels discussed everything from voter suppression to what contemporary democracy looks like. It’s more important than ever to keep learning about systemic injustice in the wake of results to not become complacent with the election of Joe Biden. In the upcoming weeks, I recommend listening to the podcast “Portrait of a Pandemic,” produced and hosted by Indigenous Stanford journalists, and registering for the Stanford Environmental Justice Symposium that provides a racialized perspective to the climate movement.
After months of contacting voters, organizing volunteers and treading water when discussing my true feelings about Biden and the system he represents, I am exhausted, and I know I’m not alone in that. But for the sake of our democracy, our planet and our civil rights, we still have work to do.