Reflecting On the Latest Election: Change is Still Possible

Friday, November 5, 2021
As a nonpartisan organization, ACLU-WA does not support or endorse candidates. At the same time, we do engage with electoral races, research candidates’ positions on issues impacting civil liberties and civil rights, and educate the public on where the candidates stand.

Following on this November’s elections, I find myself disappointed in many ways. I long for something new, creative, and innovative, that would engage the true power of the people, especially those made most marginalized and vulnerable by dominant cultural oppressive forces. The most recent election results, in many ways, did not satisfy that longing. In Minneapolis, voters in George Floyd’s own city failed to embrace an opportunity to reimagine public safety. Many in the media are reporting the results across the country and in our state as a referendum on change. I am disappointed, but neither surprised nor disheartened – and I do not agree.

There was good news as well. In Ohio, Issue 24 in Cleveland – to create a permanent civilian police oversight commission with the power to make a difference -- passed overwhelmingly by a 19 percent margin. The ACLU of Ohio was an early proponent and endorser of the measure. Change is possible.

Regarding public safety for all communities, this election was not decided on the power or persuasiveness of opposing arguments, but rather fear of the unknown and discomfort with transformation. On this topic, there has been a great deal of fearmongering. And to be clear, the times are scary in many ways.

We also know that public safety can be achieved through innovative community supports and does not rely on policing alone. The ability to envision a world in which there is sufficient housing, after school supports, a robust public health system, and even enough food for hungry children –in that world, as we focus our funding and efforts on those needs, then we work toward a world that is equitable AND safe.  Who knows what may be possible for transformation in our communities? Especially as we work together – with community and with those already in and newly elected to office. We are here to work together to champion a better future for every community.

The people of Seattle, of Washington State, and of the United States of America deserve deep and transformational societal evolution – toward equity, toward belonging. With our community partners, lawyers, and lawmakers, and other leaders who desire a more just and equitable state, we continue to work for true belongingness. The ACLU-WA, communities, and allies have the tools, resources, passion and commitment. Together, we will build that most beloved community.
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