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The election is over, the winner has been chosen, and now you might have all sorts of free time - and social media bandwidth - on your hands. Whether you are elated, disappointed, or something in between, now is also the time to figure out what exactly you're going to do with all that energy you've invested in this presidential race.

The causes and issues that you care about won't cease to exist with the end of the election cycle, so you can and should keep working to build a better tomorrow during the next four years.

So What Are You Going To Do With All That Free Time And Attention?

And we have to be somewhat glad for that! Even if the election is close or contested, at least the incessant campaign ads will be done and it will stop taking over your social media and demanding your time and attention via the 24/7 news cycle. Therefore, you've got some free time!

Devote Your Time To Worthy Causes.

All of those amazing movements, activist groups, charities, and other important issues raised during the election don't disappear during off years - and chances are that you've learned about a ton of worthy causes that you can and should devote your time, attention, and even social media space to now that promoting and/or defending your preferred candidate is a thing of the past.

Volunteer your time, donate to charities and institutions that are important to you, and don't stop making connections - and therefore making a difference - now that we have our next president. 

Connect With Your Local Officials.

If the election only whet your appetite for politics at all levels, it might be time to think local. All of those city and town council members, representatives, judges, and more are the ones who really make the difference where you actually live. 

If there is a change you want to see, a cause that you want to draw more attention to, or you otherwise want to get more involved in local politics, this would be the perfect to take all that energy you invested in the presidential election and put it into your hometown. 

Start Your Own Movement.

It might be as simple as creating a catchy hashtag and some Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook-worthy content, at least in regard to getting things going and picking up some social media momentum. 

If that gets things going, there are a multitude of next steps that you can take. Following up on an initial outpouring of responses might take the form of organizing a meet-up or group, especially if it is a locally-based cause. Or you might be more inclined to set up a GoFundMe to raise money that will make a difference, start a petition on Change.Org, or create a website for your movement. 

And don't neglect your "base" on the original social media platforms - keep them engaged with updates and new content, as well as by reaching out to the people who support your cause and getting them more directly involved. Connecting with the media wouldn't hurt either!

So at the end of the day and no matter what the result, you’re probably at least somewhat excited for the election to be over. Election fatigue is at an all-time high this year, and it's probably particularly bad for those of you who live in the prime battleground states. So use that free time and attention to do something else positive for your community, your state, or your country. That's how you can make a real difference. 

 

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If you're reading this at any point after November 8th, 2016, then the world hasn't ended on Election Day and you've survived the United States presidential election with (hopefully) your sanity intact. 

There is one thing to be said for this election - that it is a historic first. The first time we've had a viable female candidate as the first choice from a major party. It's also the first time in the modern political era someone outside of the establishment has earned the nomination from a major party.

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However, there can only be one winner, and that winner and soon-to-be 45th president of the United States is (somewhat surprisingly) Donald Trump. Much is uncertain about a Trump presidency, but one aspect is clear - things are going to change in 2017.

In his victory speech from his campaign headquarters in New York City, the president-elect urged Americans to "come together asone united people" and even praised his opponent Hillary Clinton for her service to our country.

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Is your Facebook feed filled with feuding "Trumpsters" and "Hillary Homies" going at it, and all you really want to do is support democracy without landing in the trolling crossfire? What's a good American to do? Apparently, we can all register to vote. Not only will we have done our civic duty, but apparently our reward is a male nude scene in an upcoming movie!

Joss Whedon, one of pop culture's favorite directors rejoined Twitter (he left last year) and immediately released a video with A LOT of famous people asking everyone to register to vote, and—wait for it—a promise that Mark Ruffalo will get naked if you do. Warning: There is light profanity and some pretty anti-Trump moments in this video: 

The video was created by a PAC called Save the Day, which is dedicated to “the idea that voting is a necessary and heroic act.” 
17952-save-the-day-logoThere is a certain synergy to the idea that the man behind The Avengers reboot would come up with a "be a hero and vote" type of campaign message. Whedon, in his signature way, hosted a half-hour Facebook Live event talking about the issue.

The "lots and lots" of famous people in the Save The Day video all took a tongue-in-cheek approach and definitely had fun with the message. Actor Don Cheadle's baby-sized rant and Actress Ashley Johnson's surprisingly tearful plea break from the cheeky delivery to pack a serious punch, but, for the most part, the celebrities just encourage people to register to vote, and then follow through on voting day.

17952-mark-in-video.jpgAt the 2:11 mark, the video takes an interesting turn when the celebs offer up actor Mark Ruffalo for a nude scene in his next movie. Ruffalo acts surprised and confused by the offer, saying, "They should just vote because it matters, don't you think?" In the Facebook Live event, Whedon says that when Ruffalo was approached he wanted to know why him. The director replies that it was because he didn't know Channing Tatum. 

Whether you want to see Mark Ruffalo naked or not, the message is a good one. Go get yourself registered to vote, and vote... for whoever you support. The savetheday.vote website has links to register. Once you do that, remember to go to the polls on November 8.

18101-sticker-headerIt's the picture that takes over your Facebook page on election day! So what's the story behind the "I Voted" sticker?

The stickers started popping up in the early 80's, by 1988 they become a staple after major elections. If you ask realtor's in Phoenix, they may tell you in 1985 their realtor's association was the first to hand out the stickers. You can read more about their claims in this 1990 article.

It turns out though, a teachers union handed out stickers to their members to encourage their coworkers to vote in the 1984 election. That same year there is a United Press International story noting the then Vice President George Bush was sporting an "I Voted, Have You?" sticker after he voted.

Today polling offices offer stickers in multiple languages while some states like Ohio went custom. The buckeye state held an online contest which resulted in an “I [Ohio shape] voting.”

Believe it or not, one manufacturer of the penny-stickers says they make 30 million stickers a year.

One of the most popular places to find a collection of these stickers on voting day is the grave of Susan B. Anthony. You can read more about why people bring their stickers to the sufragettes grave here. For 2016, it became a hotspot with the first major party female candidate on the ballot, the cemetery went as far as staying open late so the last voters could stop in.  A local TV station had a live Facebook feed for over three hours showing all of the excited voters taking pictures and leaving stickers.

The "I Voted" stickers were actually written into the Illinois election law books in 2015, stating if stickers are offered, they have to be offered to everyone. Unfortunately, angry businesses owners near the polling sights didn't quite feel the love since the stickers often end up on their windows. In the city of Chicago the popular stickers have been replaced by "I Voted" wristbands.

The stickers are won as badges of freedom, but another explanation for their wild popularity is that many businesses give out discounts or freebies like a cup of coffee.What's interesting about this custom is that technically it is illegal. Giving people free stuff for voting in a federal election is illegal under a law meant to discourage corruption. The thinking is that if you give benefits to anyone who’s voted, you might end up encouraging them to vote a particular way. 

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Whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or align yourself with a third party, there’s no denying the power and sheer importance of the speech that Michelle Obama just made.

 

And actually, we don’t particularly care if you are a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and you plan on voting along party lines this November 8th. You should still read this speech and check out the video at CNN, but if all you take away from it is one thing, it should be - what does it say about us as people that we’re even considering electing a leader who treats people the way that the Republican candidate does?

 

Words Matter

 

Politics aside, there’s no denying that the words our candidates use matter - and in the case of Donald Trump, they are pretty reprehensible, both in general and in regard to the way he talks about women (you’ve heard him already, and we won’t repeat his words here). Interestingly enough, Mrs. Obama never addressed him by name - perhaps also again proving that words matter more than personal political preference.

 

After all, we expect our leaders to be held to basic standards of human decency, no matter which side of the party line they fall upon. And Obama was right - it is painful to hear this kind of language from our leaders, who are supposed to be our best and brightest.

 

What Michelle Obama Actually Said

 

"I can't believe I'm saying a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women," Obama said on Thursday, October 13. And really, isn’t that what matters here? The fact that as a nation we’re seemingly okay with potentially electing someone to our highest office - and who therefore should be held to a higher standard - isn’t a problem for Democrats or the GOP - it’s a problem for we the people.

 

What’s more, she pointed out that we can’t just push it under a rug, or pretend it’s all just a bad dream, or that it will go away after the election. And it’s not just about the language that Trump used or anything else - it’s about this kind of speech and the associated divisiveness and vision of America going forward that is at stake in this election - and what that means for our society.

 

Our Leaders As A Measure Of Our Society

 

The current first lady of the United States pointed out that regardless of who is your preferred candidate for the next president of the United States, there’s something else to consider, and that like it or not, is the fact our leaders define our society.

 

All in all, as Michelle said herself, “it’s been a rough week in an already rough election”. And even though we’re almost at the finish line, what does it say about Americans in general that we’re willing to entertain this reality-show-trainwreck of an election process in 2016? And more importantly, what does that tell non-Americans? And perhaps even more importantly, what message does permitting (yes, silence, dismissing, or placating, or placating counts as permitting) that kind of speech from someone who’s aspiring to the highest office in the land and perhaps the world send to future generations of women and young people in general?

 

Something to think about as you plan to cast your ballot on November 8th.

 

 

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