There is a great deal of worry around the election. That the election will be fair and that your vote will be counted. That the election won’t be stolen in some way.
For us to achieve these goals requires a strategy as well as consistent messaging. The two are connected. And since climate is an election issue and dependent on the election, our communications around the election will affect climate.
The situation is that we may not know the results immediately after the election and need to be prepared to act all the way through inauguration day. Another is that no one institution controls the outcome of the election, especially not the current administration. Likely, we will have to plan sustained peaceful mass mobilizations that last through the swearing in of the next president.
Messaging for the election falls into three large buckets. The first is GOTV (Get Our The Vote) and November 3rd voting. The second is Post-Election and Vote Counting and the third is pre-inauguration. The first bucket’s goal is to expand voting, and reinforce voter’s belief that their vote counts. Since this post is coming out just before the election, I’ll focus on the second bucket, Post-Election and Vote Counting. The goal here is to make sure all votes count.
Research by the Race Class Narrative Action* project focuses on the strategy of building unity across our differences with the message that “Everyone Counts, and We Count Everyone.” This message takes the moral high ground and connects all of us on the shared values of inclusiveness and fairness. It rejects the cynicism of the Right and inoculates against fear and racist dog whistles. But to be effective it needs to be consistent across many different organizations. Without consistency, messages of fraud and division will rise to the top.
Social media hashtags can emphasize this point. #CountOnUs, #EveryoneCounts, #EveryVoteCounts, #CountEveryVote, #CountOurVotes, and #CountMyVote. We can even extend a patriotic theme by emphasizing American democracy, #AmericaCountsEveryVote, #OurDemocracyCountsEveryVote.
Social media talking points are:
- Whether we are Black, White, or Brown, Native or newcomer, Asian or Latino, most of us believe that everyone counts.
- Trump and his enablers are trying to cheat and bully their way through this election because they’re losing it. They want to scare and divide us from voting at all. But we know better and we decide who governs in our name.
- We count on us to deliver an America where every vote is counted and where everyone counts, no exceptions.
- By joining together across our differences, we will swear in a government elected by and for us.
This approach creates a values sandwich as an effective way to talk about the election. As I’ve written in other posts, it requires four steps.
- An appeal to common values for all of us.
- Identifying how these values are being violated and why
- Emphasizing unity and collective actions and solutions
- Returning to our mutual values with a clear call to action
What does this sound like with respect to the election in the Race-Class Narrative approach? Here’s a full narrative vesrsion.
- Appeal to common values for all of us…
Most of us believe everyone counts no matter our race, where we live or where we come from. This year has tested us like no other – our health, our livelihoods and our humanity. Through it all, we’ve counted on one another to care for our loved ones, make ends meet, and make a better future. Now, we count on us to be voters and raise our voices to swear in a new government elected by and for us.
- Identifying the values violations and why…
After abusing the office of the presidency for nearly four years to enrich himself and his friends at our expense, Trump is trying to bully and cheat his way through an election he knows he’s losing. He and his enablers hope that by sowing doubt, amplifying cynicism, and dividing us based on what we look like or where we come from, they can stop us from coming together as voters.
- Emphasizing unity and collective action…
But, they’ve got another thing coming. From big cities to suburbs to small towns, we are Americans from all walks of life uniting across our differences to deliver our voices and votes for and America where everyone counts.
- Return to values and a clear call to action…
We are building a country where our leaders act in our interest and where we appreciate our differences as we come together. Join us by turning out in record numbers across race and place to demand state officials count every vote, and together we will deliver a future where everyone counts. No exceptions.
A shorter narrative version:
Most of us believe that for democracy to work for all of us, it must include us all. But Trump is trying to divide us – sowing doubts about this election and the right of every eligible American to have our voices heard, no matter our color or origin, our income or zip code. We are joining together with people from all walks of life to vote in record numbers, demand that every single vote is counted, and deliver our democracy.
A few last word choices. Words matter and they spread.
- Use “swear in” rather than “elect leaders.” We have the power and this will be a lengthy process, so we need to set expectations for mobilization through January. Our work doesn’t end just with voting.
- Say “Trump is trying to cheat and bully,” versus “Trump is trying to steal the election.” The latter gives Trump more power than he has. We need to portray Trump as weak and desperate. We need to portray the people as having power.
- Avoid using the term rioting and instead say “We are marching to ensure every vote is counted. This is the American way.”
- Avoid the doom and gloom since it creates apathy and disengagement. Our vote is our power. Not counting it is a violation of our democracy.
- Stick to our values rather than the particulars of arguing the details of jerrymandering or voter suppression. Remember fighting entrenched frames only solidifies them.
I am hopeful because I am counting on you. If we can repeat the message, Everyone Counts and Count All Votes over and over, we will succeed. And I will be there. See you in the streets.
Thank you for what you do.
‘We are all connected. Savor the Earth!’™
* The contents of this post are based on the works of ASO Communications and The Race Class Narrative Action Project