The Long Game: Approaching the 2020 election as a strategy for health equity

Let’s use this election to shift ​who​ holds power, ​how​ power is held, and what​ collective power looks like, to advance health equity.

This election, we have the power to transform the terrain upon which the health of our communities depends. To cultivate collective health, we can use the power of our votes to overhaul and transform existing systems of oppression.

We’re all feeling the high stakes, heartache, and anxiety of this election. The decades-long attack on our public sector infrastructure has limited our ability to respond to COVID-19, and has left many at risk, overwhelmed, and harmed. And structural oppression — including racism, patriarchy, corporate power, militarism, and capitalism — is both driving deepening inequities across the social determinants of health, and is the root cause of current and historic voter disenfranchisement. The struggle for our liberation and wellbeing has reached a decisive moment.

That’s why we must work together on all fronts to build power among the people, harness the vote to advance public health and equity, and continue the long struggle to dismantle systemic racism and oppression.

Voting is a form of community power that’s critical for health

Voting and voting access are an important way to confront the unequal distribution of power that drives health inequities. We’re keeping Dr. Martin Luther King’s definition of power front of mind: “Power is the ability to achieve a purpose. Whether or not it is good or bad depends upon the purpose.” This election, we can work to shift ​who​ holds power, ​how​ power is held, and ​what​ collective power can look like, with the purpose of advancing health equity.

The struggle doesn’t begin or end at the polls

Of course, electoral politics is not the sole path to equity and justice. Democracy is a 365-days-a-year commitment — and social change happens through organized and sustained peoples’ movements. Yet if we give up on voting and elections today, we will have a narrower range of tools and solutions available in our work for racial and health equity tomorrow. Let’s vote, and let’s continue building and organizing.

Here’s what we’re doing to mobilize and care for our communities

Human Impact Partners (HIP) is engaging in the election as a critical lever and strategy in the movement for health equity. We see it as our civic responsibility to use our voice, evidence, expertise, and resources to take collective action and build power for public health. Our election work builds on, and builds up our ongoing strategies to create a world where everyone has what they need to thrive, and where all communities have a say in the decisions and policies that impact them.

As a reflection of these values, we are posting actions, resources, and materials supporting election integrity. We’re integrating election and voting work throughout HIP’s work; for example, by identifying and sharing ways that health departments can ensure that those they serve are able to safely vote. We also instituted a civic leave policy a few years ago, which allows staff the option to take Election Day off to do election-related work.

We learned from the 2016 election that it is important to support our staff in making this work sustainable. Acknowledging the differential impacts of this election on BIPOC staff members, we’re taking into account the varied roles, labor, needs, and coping strategies amongst staff and making plans for collective care. And in recognition that this year’s results may be slow in coming or possibly contested, we’ve added two post-election Wellness Days for staff to take the space they need to heal and/or take action.

What you can do to mobilize for public health this election

We know that so many of you are already doing so much to create change, defend the right to vote, and ensure the safety and integrity of the upcoming election. Many of you are writing to your elected officials, making calls to your community to increase voter engagement, and working at the polls. We’re thankful for you, and we’re there with you!

Mobilize, Register, Vote!

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Human Impact Partners

Human Impact Partners

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Bringing the power of public health to campaigns and movements for a just society