You know what’s my favorite part of the electoral process here in the US? That life goes on. Election day is just like any other, except you have one additional responsibility to fulfill before the next day comes. And when that next day does come, you still continue with your life as before. Of course your mood or your coworker’s mood may be slightly off, depending on the outcome of the election, but it is just another day. I had even scheduled a doctor’s appointment for Tuesday, November 8th! All this “normalcy” feels a bit alien to me, but in a good way.
You see, in Venezuela, election day does actually feel like the end of the world. Before and after election day, schools (both public and private) are typically closed for the span of about a week or two. Whatever few items supermarkets have in stock are completely depleted, as if in preparation for a natural disaster (and I lived this up until I moved to the US, when there was a significant scarcity of goods. I don’t know how different it would be now that the government’s incompetence has kept exacerbating this scarcity.) Usually the day of, people only leave their house only to vote, and some might stay through the night to watch the counting process. But that is it. You cannot really go on with a normal day around elections.
Now my point is not to compare Venezuela to the US (especially because they are not really comparable). What I am comparing are my experiences in each place. So what am I trying to get at with these observations? Well the notion of “this too shall pass” is easier to accept when you’re able to keep living your usual day-by-day routing before and after the election. The isolation that comes with staying at home during the electoral process in Venezuela is hard on everyone, especially when all or most news channels are controlled by the government, and all you have left are senseless speculations on social media.
And this brings me to the final point I want to make. My personal list of tips to get you through election day, regardless of how you feel about the outcome:
1.- It’s best to avoid social media in general, but if you can’t help it, take whatever you see on social media with a grain of salt.
As always, don’t believe everything you read online, especially if there is no reasonable source in sight. Also, engaging in Facebook-comment fights is a poor use of your time. And remember to watch out for biased content!
2.- Remember that the election not only dealt with choosing a president
Several Bonds have been approved that will provide over $131 million to universities, colleges, and special schools in New Mexico for improvement projects. Other bonds that passed will serve to help libraries throughout the state as well, plus there was the UNMH mill levy! You can learn more about it here. History is also being made in the US Senate, for which the US has elected four women of color. Starting next year, the US Senate will have its first Latina senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, its first female senator of Indian descent, Kamala Harris (who also happens to be California’s first black senator, and the second black woman elected to the US Senate). Joining them will also be Representative Tammy Duckworth, who was been in the House since 2013, and was born in Thailand. You can read more about them here. And you can also learn of the US’s first Somali-American legislator, Ilhan Omar, here.
3.- Consider becoming a more active member of your community
Regardless of your political views and/or how you feel about the results of this election, or whether you want to make things change or keep them the same, being a part of your community is both important and gratifying! Maybe you could search for volunteer opportunities. Perhaps if you want to be more politically active join a neighborhood council. Be aware of events near you, and try to meet new people who think like you!
4.- Last, and most importantly, acceptance and kindness are key
Another reason why you shouldn’t engage in post-electoral fights. Don’t let your differences with other people promote hate or vengeful thoughts. Instead take the opportunity to participate in open discussions with other people. And if you don’t feel ready to talk about your opinions or other people’s opinions, maybe just try to encourage amiable conversations. This election has gotten the best of all of us, so let’s try and be a bit more patient with each other. Or, as this article suggests, try to find a non-threatening, non-confrontational way to interrupt harassment or racism in public. Of course, these are all just ideas, and you should only follow them as long as you feel comfortable. But at least do consider not being the perpetrator of hate and other harmful behaviors.
So that is all I have to say for today. I hope you all stay safe and respectful to each other!