Lindsay Sabadosa: Celebrating the return of hope

  • Lindsay Sabadosa FILE PHOTO

Published: 11/19/2020 4:05:54 PM

On Nov. 7, I walked to the post office. With a bundle of constituent letters to mail, it was a glorious Saturday, and walking through downtown Northampton remains a favorite activity. It was the perfect excursion and an excuse for a coffee (or two) along the way.

I had made it as far as Crafts Avenue when I heard the news: Pennsylvania had been called. Biden had 270 electoral votes. It felt so … anticlimactic. Cars kept driving down the street, and people kept going in and out of stores. How in the age of social media and news alerts did everyone not know what had happened immediately? The man who had made a mockery of democracy and led the country to the brink of fascism had lost the election. It seemed like the world was continuing on, blissfully ignorant that poll workers had completed their task and a victor had been declared.

It took until Pleasant Street before a few cars started honking. Northampton’s regular Saturday protesters were in front of the courthouse, protesting war, nuclear weapons and our never-ending hunger for fossil fuels that is a driver for so much malfeasance. They waved and smiled. Yet the lines in the post office were quiet. People mailed packages and bought stamps, supporting the USPS. I wondered: Where was it? Where was the jubilation?

It came. By the time I passed Strong Avenue on my way back into town, the honking was persistent. Friends were bicycling into town. It was like the floodgates had opened and after four long years of joining together in protest, in mourning, people were starting to hope again. People needed to celebrate and to revel in joy. They reveled in true Northampton style, too, for hours. In a city where young and old look forward to celebrating Pride every year, it looked like everyone grabbed their rainbow flag and hit the streets. Stores turned on music, and people danced in masks. Black Lives Matter signs were taken from lawns and apartment windows and held up in glee. Someone held a huge sign that said Born This Way. Yes, there were lots of Biden/Harris signs too, several signs suggesting places where the now-outgoing president could go, and more than one reminding people that Kamala Harris had just broken through one of the toughest glass ceilings, never before broken in United States history, to become the vice president.

Mostly, though, this was not a celebration about a candidate or a party. Watching people dance and jump for joy, it felt like the messages on the signs were telling us that people were celebrating the return of hope. Hope that their story matters. Hope that the country was on a better track. Hope that voices that had been told they didn’t matter were going to be brought back into the room — or, let’s be honest, brought into the room for the first time in far too many cases.

In the days following that celebration, more and more news reports have come in about who voted and why. We know that Native Americans pushed Arizona into the win column for Biden. We know that Black organizers in Georgia turned that state blue. Progressives united with moderates in a common goal. Young people voted in record numbers. As it turns out, when you make it easy for people to vote, they do.

That work was not done because of the candidate. That work was done because people believe in this country and in a better future than the now-outgoing president could ever offer. They believe in dignity and respect for people. They have hope for their future even in the midst of a global pandemic that has taken the lives of far too many and the livelihoods, health and security of far too many others.

As the dust settles, though, there are already rumblings of discord. Pundits tweet out that politicians should stop talking about the Green New Deal or Medicare for All because it might “hurt the party” or was the cause of someone losing a seat. There is nothing that can suck the joy and hope out of the room more than political analysis about whose voice deserves to be heard. In a cruel twist, while celebrating the first women of color being the vice president as progress, the message to the rising generation of progressives, dominated by progressive women of color, seems to be that this was a victory for moderates only. Sit down. Shut up.

Campaigns are hard. Governing is harder. As we move into the next administration, let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. Let’s lean into the hope that the future of this country is a place where we deal with big issues head-on and in ways that help regular people, not just big donors. Let’s stop the divisiveness from day one and remember that voters turn out for hope. And let’s exercise that muscle of how we just came together for the common good and do it over and over — with all voices at the table and, hopefully, with lots more dancing in the streets.

Lindsay Sabadosa is a Northampton resident and the state representative for the 1st Hampshire District. She can be reached at columnists@gazettenet.com.


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