Well, that happened.
I guess we elected a bunch of people or whatever. There was a lot of yelling and crying in my house on Tuesday evening. I don’t know about yours.
But not only was this election exciting for people across the country, but I also learned a lot about Grinnell, and I don’t think that it can only be applied to electoral politics. Admittedly, that sounds hard, so I’m apprehensive of this train of thought, but whether we like it or not, this election cycle was something special on campus.
I learned something about Grinnell and Grinnell students this election season, and I think we can work with it.
I learned that people get excited when they are connected to issues “outside of the bubble,” so to speak. When Grinnell gets excited about something, by nature of this school being a safe space for nerds, they get really excited. Grinnell students worked on Senate campaigns, presidential campaigns, referendums, local election boards and as poll watchers. Grinnell students care about politics. Nerds.
I learned that door knocking is effective. The fifth time the Young Democrats knock on your door in the middle of you eating frozen snacks is fairly uncomfortable, but I have never heard people get more passionate about their civic duty. “Oh god, I’ll vote for anyone, anywhere! Let me eat my hot pocket in peace!” Door knocking is not unique to the Democratic Party: anybody can do it, anytime. While that sounds terrifying in some capacities (I have a vision a bunch of people armed with foam darts knocking on my door at four in the morning: “JOIN NERF CLUB”), Grinnell students can use door knocking for any cause they’re passionate about, reaching people one on one to have an intimate conversation.
I learned that Grinnell students think beyond campus. Watching the presidential debates in the Pub reminded me that Grinnell students are passionate about issues beyond campus. Sometimes I think we forget that we still have the opportunity to work on making the world better and to support each other in creating change even in the middle of the semester. Social justice work doesn’t just have to be something that we do off-campus, or something that we do in the summers when we aren’t doing schoolwork: we can support each other all year round, and not just when an election is happening. Doing work to take care of the world doesn’t end November 6th, duh; but sometimes it’s forgotten at Grinnell. Working towards social justice is like cleaning up trash (bear with me here): it’s important to be aware of how you can help clean up around the world, but you have to make sure the trash in your backyard is picked up before you can do anything else.
I am so excited about the results of the 2012 election, and about the passion I saw from all of us, students, staff and beyond. I hope that this passion continues beyond the results of this election, both in terms of holding our elected officials accountable, and working to make the Grinnell directly around us, a better place.
…But you’re still all nerds.