Election Reflection: The Work Ahead

11/18/20

Nearly four years ago, much of the nation and the world watched in disbelief as a real-estate-mogul-turned-reality-TV-star who had no prior experience in public service and disavowed science took the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States.

As a B Corporation, we felt compelled to signal a call to action to the business community to be the leading force for change. On February 7, 2017, we published these words:

"Now is the time for the business community – along with state and local governments – to play a critical role in ensuring our society continues to evolve in a progressive, inclusive, responsible manner."

Shortly after Trump took office, we lived up to those words and transitioned from an Inc. to a Social Purpose Corporation (SPC), reinforcing our commitment to creating positive, long-term impact by prioritizing our employees, community and environment over earnings. We were heartened to see many other companies, large and small, do the same and wield their power as the greatest single point of leverage in creating lasting change.

Over the past four years, we have seen examples of daring leadership, from the 2,000+ leaders who signed the We Are Still In declaration around continued support of the Paris Agreement, to the Expensify CEO who took the bold and highly extraordinary action of imploring his customers to defend democracy with a vote for Joe Biden. Biden’s viewpoints on issues like energy policy and climate change align with the Milepost mission - to create a material, positive impact on society and the environment.

And in his victory speech, President-Elect Joe Biden tapped into this shared ethos with his charge for America to lead “with the power of our example, and not the example of our power.” Kamala Harris is an embodiment of that example as a glass-ceiling-shattering inspiration for women all over the world.

Now that the hangover of the electoral celebration is wearing off, and concerns for a smooth transition of power hover, we must acknowledge just how much work is left to be done. The divide in this country has deepened and has unearthed deeply rooted issues and viewpoints of neighbors, friends and even family that must now be addressed.

The most obvious challenge we face as a global community is the COVID-19 pandemic that, since late 2019, has infected more than 53 million people worldwide and resulted in over 1.3 million deaths.[1] Despite a cooling-off period during the late summer months, the coronavirus is now spreading like wildfire. The US alone is experiencing six-figure increases in daily cases, and there’s news around the country that hospitals are reaching their capacity to treat patients fighting the disease. Mask wearing has become politicized, with people on both sides calling others “mask-holes.” Mistrust and misinformation are as rampant as the virus itself.

Then there’s the challenge of our fragile economy. Employment remains a tenuous enterprise for millions of Americans in service-related jobs, and countless families have struggled to pay their bills. Against the backdrop of a growing health crisis, many now face the haunting prospect of eviction.

The third big challenge we face is societal tension and unrest. For years, we have witnessed the senseless deaths of countless Americans at the hands of law enforcement, and finally, the outcries have reached a crescendo. We’ve been subjected to the words of a sitting president calling white supremacists “very fine people” during a hate rally in the streets of Charlottesville. Americans appear as divided as we were during the mid-20th century, with ideas like compromise and reconciliation becoming more proverbial by the day.

All that said, we are big believers in seeing challenges as opportunities in disguise. Victork Frankl wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." This is our calling for the next four years and beyond – to continue serving as an example for positive and lasting change in the world. The election was a start, and we are hopeful that we are back on a track that will help us confront these challenges head-on with vulnerability, a belief in science, facts, the conviction that all people are created equal, and the persistence and perseverance to lead by the power of our example. This will be a marathon, not a sprint, and the prize at the end will be a country that actually is great again.

Luke Gebhard is a contributing writer for this Insight.

Photo by Snapwire.

Holly Baird
Holly Baird