Stop Asking Me To Go To Your Election Watch Party
I can’t believe I have to say this but: For the love of God, do not invite me to your “fun” or “community-building” election watch parties. I don’t care about commerisating or celebrating together, when being together is so fraught right now. Nor do I think watching the future of our country unfold on live television is particularly entertaining.
Perhaps I feel so strongly about this because I learned my lesson the hard way in 2016 as a first-time voter. I chose to study “away” (lol) at NYU’s Washington D.C. campus my freshman year so that I could not only cover the election, but experience the joy that so many other voters have felt firsthand. I heard stories about the midnight parties, the dancing in the streets, the electric communion of hope and thought that I would one day get to enjoy or report out those moments.
But instead my initiation into the world of election watch parties was a slow descent into an unspeakable mourning. The day started with philosophy class, where we all glanced at The New York Times’ infamous Election Needle on our phones while waiting for the security guard to unlock the classroom door. (Why we didn’t have Election Day off will remain a mystery to me.) After our no-computer class, I set off to pick up catering for the election party the student government was hosting. I remember chatting with the student government president, wings in tow, in the Uber back to the building about how excited and anxious we were. We set up balloons, bean bags, snacks for about 100 people. We didn’t know that many of us would ditch the “party” and spend the night calling emergency therapy services, checking in with our undocumented friends and family members, and protesting in front of the White House and Trump’s fancy new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. Those actions felt a lot more productive than sulking in front of a TV, eating salted caramel ice cream, which I admit is what I did until about 11 p.m. when I realized that there was no turning back and that I should see how my loved ones were holding up. I’d come up with a reporting plan after I made sure everyone was in a safe place, mentally and physically.
The stakes are so much higher this year. Either way, it doesn’t feel appropriate to set ourselves up for disappointment or celebration when so many people have died this year from a disease that could have been better managed. We also know that election results will take much longer to count because of the number of folks voting by mail, so why bother putting yourself or anyone else through the election watch party circus? The results coming in tonight will probably be skewed to favor Republicans who tend to vote in-person versus Democrats who are more likely to go for a mail-in option. Even then, it’s not like a Biden win would ensure us of things we need like better COVID leadership, a pathway to a more sustainable future, or policies that aren’t so rampantly racist. There are also concerns of alt-right backlash and violence if Biden wins, so celebrating can be dangerous for some.
So, no, I won’t be attending your little watch party, in person or on Zoom. (Also, for those of you asking for an in-person hang…read the room.) I’d rather be doing something slightly more constructive, like donating to local bail organizations, calling my family members and making sure they’re okay, and reporting what Election Day/Week/Month looks like for marginalized and disenfranchised groups.