Messaging for Systemic Change After the Election

November 2, 2020

Insights from The Opportunity Agenda

As we all prepare for what may be a turbulent post-election period of competing messages and disinformation, The Opportunity Agenda team has prepared guidance to help you communicate with values both about the immediate moment and about our long-range vision for justice. 

We know that leading with values works. We know that our audiences are going to be as anxious as we are, and that reminding them about what’s important and foundational can provide some reassurance. We’re not alone in our anxiety, nor – more importantly – in our vision for the future. 

We also know that it may take days, or even weeks, to certify the 2020 election and that there will likely be a mad scramble of expectation-setting and public arguments over real and imagined rules, which may or may not have merit. 

In this potentially confusing environment where anxiety and energy is especially high, we can advance both long- and short-range goals by leading with foundational and aspirational values such as:   

  • Voice. Because we are unstoppable when we use our voice. 
  • CommunityBecause we thrive together when we are unified. 
  • SafetyBecause all people deserve to feel and truly be safe. 
  • DignityBecause we are humans first, and all people deserve to live in peace and dignity. 

Recommendation: Lead with Values 

If no one is declared the winner on Nov. 3, or even in the hours or days after, The Opportunity Agenda recommends that we confidently push officials to count every vote and hear every voice. We will reinforce the foundational principle of “one person, one vote” no matter what. That means ensuring that election officials take the time, and have the means, to count every vote.  

Value: The voice and votes of each person must be heard. It is imperative that we protect each other, our voices, and our democracy in this time. No one should be able to silence our voices. 

Problem: The 2020 pandemic forced voters to take steps to protect their health while taking part in the democratic process. If it were not for absentee or mail-in voting, many people would have no choice but to sit out the election, but they are instead showing up in record numbers. Any politician or pundit who tries to silence the voices of millions or divide us is wrong.  

Solution: We must be united in the demand for a fair and full count so that the voice of the majority is heard and so that we can build for the future. There are no legal grounds to declare a winner of the election without having done so. While all votes – whether cast in person, absentee, or by mail – are counted under the rules we have today, we have an opportunity to re-imagine a democracy for the future: one in which voter suppression has been eradicated and every vote is counted equally.  

Action: All voices must be heard in this election – that means all votes must be counted. We will not let any politician or pundit, or any artificial deadlines for counting stand in the way. We will remind people that our new future is built upon everyone having a voice and all of us coming together as a community to solve shared problems, to keep each other safe, and to help each other live with dignity.  

We hope that this guidance is helpful to you. We will follow up with additional support after the polls close and in the coming month, including new research on people’s views on race, division, and hopes for a brighter future. 

Thank you for using your voices to build power and to ensure that our communities are heard loud and clear.