In this increasingly awful political climate, I resolve to write to or call a politician every week, even when it feels like throwing words into the wind. Beyond words, I resolve to put my body on the line, some line, some march, some meeting, some protest, once every week.
One difficulty comes in choosing who to call and about what, with emails and Facebook messages and texts pouring in, each of them urgently asking me to contact Congress about X, where X is some godawful cabinet appointment, some threat to civil rights, some new move to roll back health care coverage or Medicare or workers rights or consumer protection. Dave Snyder is a friend, an organizer, and a very smart guy. With his permission, I want to share one of his recent Facebook posts, which offers a very good idea about making activism effective. I hope someone or some organization picks it up and runs with it.
One simple website
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple website, state by state, collaboratively maintained by several non-profits, that would gather up and list 4-5 opportunities to call our Members of Congress (MoCs) each day or two, on issues of broadly shared progressive concern? I’m a bit overwhelmed by an inbox full of daily email appeals from each of the 15-20 groups I’ve joined in recent years. This website could be non-partisan, issue-based, so any group could ask their members to visit. Non-turfy and non-branded, so orgs would not need to worry about folks getting propositioned to join additional mailing lists or groups just because they use the site. Could include asks related to protecting social security, climate justice, workers rights, immigration reform, consumer protection, racial justice, healthcare issues, and others– and if you visit the site and happen to only agree with or feel passionately about one issue, you need only click on that one link, get a paragraph or two of background info, and the number of your MoC to make a quick call. And because it’s not branded as one singular campaign or organization or coalition, you shouldn’t feel too bad if you see a call to action that you don’t fully agree with (right?). It could also link to a few progressive, credible new sources and blogs, and maybe feature a cool photo and quote each day or two, to entice users without lots of flashiness. Might be nice if it asked for a quick registration– name, email, zip code, and how you found out about the site– with a commitment that your info would only be shared with the org you list as your affiliation, if you list one– along with a record of your clicked “I made a call!” outcomes, so that orgs could see if this is working. Does something like this already exist?
Bonus: Staying sane and balanced
Dave also posted a letter with good advice about maintaining personal sanity and emotional balance. Here’s that letter:
Devastated about US politics? Try this:
a) accept that feeling as a reasonable reaction and don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way and not being able to maintain productive non-weepy action every waking hour;
b) go see “Hidden Figures”. (also Moana. also The Eagle Huntress).
c) don’t fall prey to the false choice between “identity politics” and “the white working class”. Big tent, people-centered politics fights for ALL workers rights, affordable healthcare, clean water, air and soil, LGBTQ rights, and it recognizes and welcomes all cultures and faiths as part of our American tapestry, with vibrant traditions of community building and social movement lessons and practices we desperately need right now. It fights to eradicate the racism that pervades our national DNA and preys on our people every day, and it stands against the marginalization of rural and tribal communities as “sacrifice zones” deprived of resources, protections and investments.
d) reach out to friends and loved ones, not electronically– we’re talking face to face, punim to punim, hugs and real talk and the like;
e) un-frickin’-plug a bit– when Thich Nhat Hanh talks about appreciating the beauty of the world, it’s not something you can do while your face is buried in a screen!
f) pick your least destructive coping mechanisms, accept them, and plot a course to emerge from them with the right (therapeutic, social, medicinal) support– you might decide to become a fanatic Pokemon Go! player, rather than eating all the chocolate you feel like eating.
g) read some good analysis leavened with hope and grounded in real organizing– like Rev. William Barber’s writings, or Becky Bond & Zack Exley’s Nation article or book on big organizing.
h) make your offering, as humble as it may be, regularly, for our democracy and our community. Send ten bucks to Elizabeth Warren, Planned Parenthood or the Southern Poverty Law Center; come out to the organizing meeting to defend our healthcare on Jan. 15th, or a great event in the works for inauguration night in Minneapolis. Call your reps, join a rally, go to a public hearing, etc., EVERY WEEK!
i) get to the gym and make a sweat-trade, angst for endorphins.
j) rinse and repeat. pray. mourn. organize. dance. ok, good talk.
Thanks, Dave, for saying yes to sharing these posts!