It’s now been a bit more than two months since Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took office and almost that much time since I stopped feeling a daily sense of dread about everything. I’m sure others have been experiencing the same. Now that we’ve had some time to breathe and come down a little from the stress, it’s time to re-energize for the long fight ahead. Y’all do know that we can’t kick back and relax for the next four years and expect all the many things wrong with this country to be magically fixed, right?
You probably answered: “Of course I don’t think that! It’ll be hard work to undo the damage done.”
Yes, that’s right. And YOU have to do some of it. More of it than you probably know.
As important as it is that we have people we like or can at least deal with in the White House and Congress, those people cannot do everything and the things they can do they might have to be leaned on to do. That’s where the rest of us come in.
Every single person who cares about progressive ideals and values needs to be pushing for or contributing to change and betterment all the time. What that looks like will be different for different people and that’s fine. No matter what, you need to be doing it.
That all sounds vague, so here are my more concrete suggestions.
First: Pick One Cause To Prioritize
Yes, one. Why one? Because this work can tire you out. Because every person cannot do every thing. Because if a ton of people choose at least one then we have a ton of people putting their energy into positive change, which will proliferate.
Pick a cause that you’ve very passionate about and know at least a little about the activists, organizations, and movements involved in it. That will help with the next step.
Second: Do Your Research
You want to make sure that the organizations or movements attached to the cause are legit. So do some Googling on them and the coverage they get, especially from blogs, newsletters, social media accounts, etc. that are sympathetic to the cause.
A key element to this is not just knowing the problem, but also knowing the solutions to it. What solutions are these groups or individuals suggesting and/or trying to implement? Do they align with what you know and understand? These questions should be part of research, too.
Third: Decide How You Will Contribute
If you only have the time and energy to set up recurring donations or something along those lines and you have the budget to do so, that is okay! Money helps and is often key to getting an issue in front of people who can make change happen.
If you have time or energy for more, look to see if there are already calls to actions or a list of what volunteers/supporters can do. Maybe it’s helping to plan meetings or rallies, or organizing text/phone banking or letter writing, or making lots of social media posts, or something else entirely. If you don’t find a list of helpful actions, contact the orgs or movement leaders or whoever to ask for one.
One action you need to have on your list (unless there’s a specific reason not to) is contacting your elected officials about this cause. Sending letters and other communications to elected officials is one of the best ways to get them to pay attention to the wants and needs of their constituents.
I know some people really don’t like communicating face-to-face (such as at town hall meetings) or over the phone (just in case you don’t get the voicemail). There are other things you can do. I love the tool ResistBot because it makes it very easy to send a letter/message to your elected officials right from your phone in the form of texts. All you have to do is provide your zip code and the bot knows who all your electeds are and will make it easy to connect with them.
Fourth: Keep At It
It’s easy to get fired up and want to help and then have stuff slip from your mind or get shoved back in priority because of stuff going on in you life. That’s why it’s good to assess how much energy you can put into this cause and what is most helpful when you have to pull back. Even if you do, try to keep up with the latest news and developments through newsletters or social media and other communications from the orgs or activists. There may be times when they need more help (a bill is coming up for a vote, a measure is on the ballot) and that coincides with a time you have more energy or space.
Creating positive change is a long haul, not a quick fix.
What cause are you going to pick? I’d be interested to know in the comments! And if you already know which orgs, groups, etc. you plan to work with or donate to, please drop those links in there as well.