Stacey Abrams: Voting plus protest equals long term change

In the New York Times on June 4th, Fair Fight Action founder Stacey Abrams shared an op-ed about the importance of voting in addition to impactful protesting. Abrams writes that in moments of social upheaval like right now, voting can feel inadequate, but that it is still incredibly important.

Abrams does address the concerns around politicians and other leaders telling concerned citizens to “just go vote.” Abrams explains this, writing, “‘Go vote’” sounds like a slogan, not a solution. Because millions of us have voted. And too many still die. The moment requires many things of each one of us.” But, she notes, there are many concrete ways that turning out to vote helps people in our communities and across the country.

To Abrams, voting is “the first step in a long and complex process” about civic engagement. She compares civic engagement and meaningful change to a car, writing, “You can have a car with all the bells and whistles, but if it doesn’t have wheels, you can’t move forward.” For Abrams, voting is what keeps the process of progress moving.

“People don’t necessarily care about politicians, but they do care about their own lives,” Abrams explains. Voters turn out to support campaigns that put the issues and policies that matter most to them. She writes about her view of campaigning, that politicians need to explain the job they will do in whatever position they are running for, and to make it plain what they stand for would fight for in order to best help voters make up their mind.

Representative John Lewis, Abrams writes, refers to the right to vote as “almost sacred;” Abrams describes voting as a profound act of faith, and the ultimate power a citizen can have in a democracy. Voting has the impact to transform communities, and uplift people whose voices are not being heard, and Abrams believes that we all must continue to fight for the right to vote and be sure to yield it.

Towards the end of her piece, Abrams discusses the cultural change in America, and writes that when Communities of Color and Progressive and Moderate White communities join together, they make up a majority of the American population.  Right now, we are seeing these groups of justice-minded people come together and stand up against inequality and injustice. Abrams believes that the protesters are right to protest, and that political leaders are right to also urge them to be sure to vote.

Abrams concludes: “Protest to demand attention to the wrenching pain of systemic injustice. Vote because we deserve leaders who see us, who hear us and who are willing to act on our demands.”

On June 17th, the GLAAD Media Institute is offering a workshop to teach some of the best strategies to do election work that will help to enact meaningful policies to accelerate acceptance in communities throughout the country. With protests happening in cities across the United States, the GLAAD Media Institute also wants to help activists lay the groundwork for meaningful electoral campaigns.

2020 Election Engagement for LGBTQ Equality will take place online on June 17th at 1pm EST, and is open for anyone to join. During the workshop, the GLAAD Media Institute team and workshop participants will discuss how to tell impactful stories, make voters understand what issues are important to the LGBTQ community and allied communities, and explore resources to find accurate information and counter fake news about the marginalized communities.

You can sign up to join the workshop here.

The GLAAD Media Institute is offering virtual courses and workshops to activists and advocates around the country, and world, in the weeks to come, including a workshop on June 17thClick here to learn more about how to join a course or workshop and use your voice as a GLAAD Media Institute alum.