The election is over, but our problems are not.

The election is over, but our problems are not.

Jenna VanDonselaar

I was raised Christian, raised to vote Republican, and raised to view the world as a gift from God. As I have gotten older, these three pieces seem to intersect and change. I still call myself a Christian, still view the world as a gift from God, but only in my first election season, as a bright-eyed 18-year-old, did I vote Republican. Since then, I’ve found that the Democratic party has, at least on paper, aligned more closely with my values. I want candidates to care about those in poverty, those without homes, and to recognize the threat that climate change poses to communities and the natural world.

We are beginning 2021, and most people are far done with election talk. Sure, the polls are closed, and the results are in, and it is time to move on. I am weary from the hours I spent texting voters this fall, and I’d like to think all my efforts were worth it.

But the work is far from done. As many organizers will tell you, voting is just one piece. In order to bring about change, or justice, it is vitally important that we collectively advocate, educate, and move towards a more just world. And this year, even the election isn’t done– with a president who refused to accept the results of the election and his faithful followers working to undermine the democratic process.

Connecticut is supposedly a “blue” state, a state that has overwhelmingly aligned itself with Democratic policies and candidates. But Connecticut also has some of the greatest income inequality in the country, is at risk of sea level rise and extreme weather events as a result of climate change (such as the storms we had last summer), and continues to put profits over people time and again. For a state with leadership that supposedly wants to make a difference in the lives of those experiencing poverty, ensure healthcare, and combat climate change, the results of our policies are grim. The work is far from complete, and we need our elected officials to deliver on that which they promised us.

We need our leaders to take their responsibilities seriously, and roll out bold policies in this next legislative session.

Top of their agenda must be a plan for a future where we are no longer dependent on fossil fuels. This means halting the construction of new fossil fuel plants– such as the one proposed for Killingly– and investing in a green future. As we do, we will create good jobs for our community, and ensure that the current inequity plaguing the labor market becomes a relic of the past. We need our elected officials to enact a bold plan to protect our state from the effects of climate change, and to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, not 2040. We need our elected officials to not just talk about climate, diversity, and caring for the poor, but act as if these things really matter.

The recent sign-on to the Transportation Climate Initiative Program is a promising step. But while our state has taken a significant step in investing in sustainable transportation for our future, the Killingly gas plant continues to move forward in construction. We need collaboration and consistency from our state legislature, and to treat climate change like the emergency it is.

“Trumpism” is a symptom of much greater problems, and while I am  personally be happy to see Trump leaving the Oval Office, I also fear that a Biden presidency will breed complacency. It’s easy to point to others, and say “those people are the source of our problems.” It is far harder to look inward and see how, even in a blue state, we still have policies and ideologies that are racist, we still maintain income inequality, and our problems continue. The fight is far from over.

Jenna Van Donselaar is a Field Organizer for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action/Willimantic.

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