Activist 101

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For better or worse the thread of politics runs deep through our history. However, when voter participation rates are compared with equivalent Western democracies, the U.S. placed 26th out of 32. Approximately fifty-percent of eligible voters in the U.S. shirk this basic responsibility and insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable. The consequence is that liars, panderers and political opportunists have a much easier time of convincing an uninformed populace to support thousands of incremental and seemingly unconnected actions that are designed to slowly and methodically strip away the democratic rights of the majority and replace them with the governing power of the oligarchy.

It makes sense in the age of Trump, to feel overwhelmed with political fatigue. However, if you feel a call to action and wish to broaden your knowledge and begin connecting the dots, there are sources that provide accurate reporting on important issues. Here are a few suggestions to get started; The National Bureau of Economic Research, The Jim Hightower Lowdown report, author and radio host Thom Hartman, climate reporters Bill McKibben and Jeff Goodell, economists David Cay Johnson and Jeffery Sachs. Commentators Robert Reich and Amy Goodman. Democracy NOW podcast, Mother Jones and the Nation magazines, advocacy groups; the ACLU, NAACP, Planned Parenthood and the campaign for Americas future.org. Additionally, there are sites to fact check disinformation at; factcheck.org, SNOPES and PolitiFact.com.

There are also a wide range of opportunities to participate in the democratic process. Such as; writing letters to the editors, writing a blog, engage in social media. Donate time and or money to political campaigns and causes, activism, attend town halls, protest, run for office and of course vote. At a minimum, call the congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. Another method, particularly for representatives, is to type in your zip code under “Find Your Representative” at House.gov. When you call, tell the staffers at your senator or congressmen’s office you’re a constituent. They’ll probably ask for your zip code. Keep the communication concise, “I’m calling to request [insert Senator or representatives name]’s support for SB 3036, keep families together act” or “I want you to cosponsor H.R. 724.”

Sending emails serves a slightly different function- as most are sorted by algorithms, this method generally signifies what topics constituents are interested in. Therefore, be sure to add the bill number in the subject line of the email. For instance: SUPPORT SB 3036. Mondays and Friday afternoons, any day immediately following a holiday and the month of August are the worst times to make contact. These times are usually reserved for non-legislative issues. Also worth mentioning, reaching out to other state’s members of congress is rarely if ever effective. Remember all politics is local.

Finally, if you’ve ever wondered what you would do during slavery, the holocaust, or the civil rights movement, you’re doing it right now. Become informed on the issues or at least the ones important to you, get involved and make a difference. This is your democracy too.

 

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