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Library Research Notes #45
The Election Wasn't a Bust
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Hello, welcome back, and thank you for your patience while I took a little end of year breather! If you are a new reader thank you for joining and if you have been here for a while - thank you for continuing to read my writing. I value each and every one of you. I was thinking about writing on the midterm election this time, but I feel like there has been enough analysis of that on the Internet, so I’m just going to talk a little bit about the high points from November 8th and then move forward.
Since we are well into the holiday season, this will be the only post in December. But I shall return in January with more content and some extras. I hope that the remainder of your 2022 treats you well and that 2023 is even better for us all. Happy holidays, to those who celebrate!
Let me start by saying that I am grateful for Vice President Harris, who continued to discuss reproductive justice, bodily autonomy, and the need for codification of abortion rights into our federal laws while stumping for Dems across the country. Not all of the Democrats stuck to the message in those last couple of weeks leading up to election day, but luckily those who did were the reason that we came out with more victories than imagined.
After much build-up and a push to get out the vote, I feel like we did pretty well overall. There was no red or blue wave this time, but Democrats did better than expected, so that is something to celebrate. Although the right wing has chipped away at our rights for all these years, and they are starting to realize some of their long-term goals, on the left side of the aisle, we are continuing to grow and diversify. We are representing a truer vision of the United States, where everyone is equal and nobody is made to feel less than or oppressed. When you hear pundits talk about the Democrats being the ‘big tent’ party, this is what they mean. And although being a coalition of nearly everyone can, at times, be challenging, considering the many different priorities that groups put forward, we are attempting to meet the needs of everyone and work toward the greater good.
Focusing on reproductive justice, and specifically abortion and the rights of pregnant people, during this election was a winning strategy. It was not the usual campaign style for Democrats, but it proved to be a smart way to get out the vote. You could tell from the coverage in the last few weeks leading up to election day that Republicans were starting to get scared, considering the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court seemed to be doing more harm to their campaigns than anticipated. Because of this, they tried to sway Democrats to change their messaging. A few candidates on the left shifted to messaging about the economy, but those that stuck to reproductive justice in their speeches overwhelming came out on top.
People came out, in record numbers for a mid-term election, to show that they supported bodily autonomy and choice. In a year that has been difficult for reproductive justice, to say the least, the election was heartening. Kentucky, especially, showed us that even in one of the most Republican-leaning states in the country, people do not want their right to abortion taken away. Thank you to our neighbours to the north (we are just 5 minutes away from the Kentucky line in Clarksville, TN) for showing the rest of the country that we are not going to stand for rolling back rights.
We also had a narrow, but wonderful, victory two weeks ago in Georgia where voters re-elected Senator Raphael Warnock. It is still quite astonishing that the margin was so narrow, but I am thankful to the Democrats in Georgia who, despite the horrible levels of voter suppression, came out and voted to keep that Senate seat blue. And although Senator Sinema announced, shortly after the election, that she would be leaving the Democratic party, to be Independent, it is still a victory. After all, Sinema was already acting like an Independent, so holding on to the Warnock seat and picking up a seat in Pennsylvania (go Fetterman!) will hopefully help the Dems get some shit done in the Senate this term. I suppose we shall see.
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Voter Suppression
Even with the small victories on November 8th and December 6th, there was still an outrageous amount of bad information shared during this mid-term election season. We are still in a fight for our rights against those wish to see the movement toward equity, which has been fought for vigorously over the past 246 years, torn down. I have written several pieces about how to combat mis and disinformation and how to dispell myths that cause voter suppression, but after the midterm election ProPublica released a piece that shows the specific effects in the midterm cycle.
In How to Outsmart Election Disinformation (propublica.org), Karim Doumar and Cynthia Gordy Giwa break down the differences between mis and disinformation, highlight the top trends during the midterm election, provide a quick overview of how to spot fake information, and discuss how these forms of fake news thrive when there is confusion amoung the people.
On the positive side, Ashley Gold and Sara Fischer, at axios.com, discuss Why misinformation didn’t wreck the midterms. One of the reasons why it failed, which I love, is that there is more education.
“Nonprofits, departments of state, media organizations and campaigns ran voter education initiatives in an attempt to "pre-bunk" misinformation ahead of the midterm elections.” (axios.com)
Similarly, Tamara Keith, Miles Parks, and Shannon Bond, on NPR, discuss Misinformation’s Limited Impact On The Midterms. (npr.org) I am happy to see that education around mis and disinformation, along with poll workers and officials pushing back on fake news regarding elections, has actually made a positive impact on voting.
Good news from the stacks
If you made it this far, here is your reward - a lovely piece by Charles Blow about his love of libraries; Thankful for Libraries (nytimes.com).
Happy New Year - see you in 2023!