Many of us are waiting with bated breath to find out which two U.S. Senate candidates will win the runoff elections in Georgia tomorrow. We all know what’s at stake: whether the Senate will be majority red or blue. It’s been thrilling to witness how black women leaders like Stacey Abrams, LaTosha Brown, and Keisha Lance Bottoms have mobilized to fight against long-time voter suppression that has kept black people and other marginalized groups from voting and being heard.
Those of us in journalism often rely on lengthy human-interest stories paired with statistics and/or survey results to engage readers on topics we deem important. We see the opposite on the Facebook account “Team Stacey Abrams for Warnock/Ossoff RunOffs.” The feed is full of inspiring and heartwarming caption-length stories from men and women on their way to vote or who just voted. This includes sentiments like:
It’s surprising just how powerful these tiny personal stories are. I've been thinking about why. There is certainly the “David and Goliath” element, where bullied victims finally rise up and win their due justice. There is also the reminder that “we the people"--me, you, all of us—want policies and laws that truly represent and protect us. Many of us are sick and tired of having white rich men passing policies that help build their fortunes and protect their power, and the rest of us be damned (or simply ignored).
The last four years sure taught us that that we can’t sit back and hope politicians get it right. We must get in the game to fight for our rights. Right now, each Georgian who gets out and votes, particularly during a pandemic, is doing so for themselves, their communities, and for all of us who want change. I want to see and celebrate their faces on social media, and add to the comments cheering them on and expressing gratitude (i.e. "Say it Kylee, we got this!" "Thank you from Boston, we love you!" "Sending love, hope and good vibes from Long Island, NY! You GOT this Georgia.").
These stories and selfies also remind us that lecturing and cajoling us to vote, or do anything, is a waste of breath (ask any teen if you need a reminder). It is far more effective to build a collective sense of enthusiasm that we want to take part in while creating a narrative that allows us be a hero. Who knew FOMO (fear of missing out) could be such a rallying political tool?
Lastly, hearing from everyday people stepping into their power feels far more exhilarating these days than hearing from any big-name celebrity or entertainer. I'd rather hear from a grandmother of five voting for the first time than from anyone I might see on the red carpet. No matter what happens tomorrow in the elections, I count this all as a huge win for democracy.
Michelle Cove is a journalist, filmmaker, author, and founder of the nonprofit MEDIAGIRLS. She uses storytelling and media to encourage, challenge, empower and inspire others and is seeking a job that allows her to put these skills to use; check out her resume if you may know the right fit. Michelle's favorite stories involve resilience, a blend of soft humility and sharp humor, and a belief that the universe is conspiring to help us all grow. Find her at LinkedIn.
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