Election night can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. We all know it doesn’t feel great to scroll endlessly on Twitter, convince ourselves that all is lost, or fall into the trap of having a little too much bravado after our candidate wins.

So what can we do to transform the anxiety or apathy we’re feeling about this year’s election? 

We believe in the power of purposeful gathering for two reasons. First, being with others gives us comfort and can remind us of our collective power. And second, we can’t put our citizenship into practice alone. Gathering together helps us rebuild our civic faith and strengthen our civic muscles. It reminds us that living like a citizen isn’t just about voting, but about all the ways we contribute to society throughout the year.

Choose to spend election night with purpose.

Things to do on election night

If you want to have a quiet, notification-free evening, try putting your phone in the other room and making time for reflection.

Or invite friends over for dinner and discussion. We all know how good it feels to be included in something meaningful, so be that person who catalyzes connection.

1. Read some poetry — or write your own.

Art and poetry can help us make sense of the complexity and humanity of others. It helps us see people in 3D and understand the challenges others face. Here are a few pieces that may stir something for you.

Our colleague, Cornell Wooldridge, wrote a poem called Revolution Song. It begins…
Today we answer love’s call, begin anew
Create a world of history’s wisdom and future’s light
Revolution won’t come from them, it starts with you

Read Revolution Song →

Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese, offers us a pathway to connection. It begins…
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Read Wild Geese →

Poet and Civic Saturday Fellow Hakim Bellamy wrote this piece for a recent Civic Saturday gathering. It begins…
There’s a familiar saying
that goes something like this:
What makes music, music
is not the notes themselves
…but actually
the spaces between them.

Read Civic Symphony →

Let yourself be inspired to write some poetry to process how you’re feeling today. No judgement, just write!

2. Pick a playlist.

Singing out loud with friends or strangers can be awkward — but it can also evoke a sense of affirmation, heart, and even playful commonality. It can help us feel more capable of doing other unfamiliar things, like diving into uncomfortable conversations. Here are a few songs that feel fitting for the night.

A screenshot of the playlist for election night.

Explore the playlist →

3. Reckon and reflect.

Whether it’s personal journaling or group discussion, take a moment to reflect on the ways you contribute to community. Here are a few places to start…

— Explore these four prompts separately, then use your answers to find new ways to step up and be part of something bigger than yourself.

  1. When you think about our society, what weighs heavy on your heart?
  2. What brings you joy?
  3. What communities are you part of?
  4. What are you good at?

This prompt is inspired by this resource.

— What assumptions am I making about people from whom I am different? What am I open to learning? 

— Make a “new election year’s resolution.” Let this moment of transition help you commit to new ways of taking responsibility for your community.

4. Become a sworn-again American.

When naturalizing immigrants become American citizens, they learn the history and the civic scripture of our nation. And, importantly, they come together to take an oath.

We got to thinking: What would it look like for all of us to take an oath? For citizens of long standing and Americans new and old to renew our civic vows? To become Sworn-Again?

Inspired by this naturalization oath, we created the Sworn-Again America oath so each of us can experience the urgency, the solemnity, yet also the utter joy of choosing citizenship actively. Follow along…

Learn more →

What else did you come up with? Tag us on social media and follow along to see how others are making election night meaningful this year.