What to Take Away from This Past Election Season

The most recent election season has come and most definitely gone. Although all of the ballots have been counted (and recounted in some cases), we may not have moved on entirely from the activity of election season or the results. Whether you’re feeling proud or disappointed, we should talk about the key takeaways from this election season. It might seem strange to consider the “unpolitical” aspects of a very political event, but when the rush of election season has left us with jumbled or untied loose ends, we should try to understand what we are feeling and how this election season may have reinvigorated our roles as active citizens. So as I reflect on this past election season and point out the golden nuggets that became visible along the way, I hope you can also see the value of this election season regardless of the results or how you voted on election day.

Political activism isn’t only reserved for election seasons.

Although the talk of ballots and political candidates may have gone down quite a few notches since the closure of the election season, that doesn’t mean we should just abandon the political scene altogether. The electrified election season should empower us to continue rooting for the causes we care for most and for the changes we wish to make a reality in our society. If you see something on social media that you want to share with others but feel like being political is strange outside of an election season, go ahead and share that post. Being politically active isn’t reserved for only during election season. It’s always the right time to share thoughts and exchange ideas.

Strength lies in numbers.

You may have noticed this past midterm election was especially active — as in, record-breaking active. According to an Intelligencer article, our very own University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald projected voter turnout to be “at just under 116 million.” This equates to a 48 percent voter turnout. To put this into perspective, this is the highest projected turnout for midterm elections in over 25 years. Typically elections other than the presidential race do not garner much attention or enthusiasm. I was so pleased to witness a growth in voter turnout; Even just on campus, I could tell this midterm election season was going to be one for the books. There was just so much activity and discussion that I had never seen before for an election that usually doesn’t have a large voter turnout. This increased participation really drives home the idea that strength lies in numbers. When we encourage each other to perform our civic duty and right as active citizens, we are increasing the strength of society as a whole. Regardless of political affiliation, our strength is truly magnified when we participate in election seasons.

Change does start with one vote.

If this election did not convince you that one vote really can tip the scale, then I don’t know what will. Although I do consider myself to be someone who thinks on the positive side and believes in the power of the individual, I have to say the proceedings of this election surely cemented the idea that one vote holds weight. The various situations of ballots being recounted and close margins between candidates proved that one vote really is important. In the grand scheme of elections, it may seem like one vote really doesn’t make a difference, but one vote becomes thousands of votes that sway results.

If you’re disappointed, channel that into fuel for change.

Even though feelings of disappointment can be overwhelming or make you want to give up on the things you believe in, you have the ability to transform that negative emotion into something productive. When you’re feeling down, channel that energy into the passion and fuel for change you wish to see in society and in your surroundings. It can be difficult to see the bright side when things don’t go exactly the way you thought they would, but election seasons should push you to continue rooting for your beliefs and ideas. Channeling the disappointment you may have can also transition into encouraging others to pursue their ideals, which increases political engagement within our society. This is a plus because we all have a part to play and the power to spark change.

Your vote is valid regardless of whether your candidate wins.

Fellow Her Campus UFL writer Cayela Cuevas shared one takeaway that is extremely important to talk about. She brought up how your vote carries validity and worth no matter the outcome of the election. We have to keep in mind that, despite our hopes, there is no guarantee the candidates or legislation you voted for will be the end result. That is just part of the voting experience. However, if you feel discouraged to participate in voting or engage in political activism because your candidate of choice didn’t win, then please remember your vote is valid no matter the election results. Cayela wants to make sure you don’t let election results deter you from voting in future elections, and I completely agree with this sentiment.

Although it may be strange to talk about politics without actually going into parties and individual beliefs, the fact that we all have the power to change things we see unfit within our society should be highlighted and celebrated. No matter the election results or what you hear being thrown around between political parties, we all must acknowledge our right to voting and being politically engaged individuals. We literally have the power in our hands.