I have been ruminating, stressing and wracking my brain since Election Day.
What is the best way to contribute my energy and skills?
How can I make the most difference and stand up for the rights of minorities, women, the LGBTQ community and the environment?
l’ve spent well over 100 hours surfing the internet researching organizations, reading endless articles from mainstream media as well as fringe media, and talking with as many people as I can about their opinions and beliefs regarding the next four years.
I’ve drawn upon this thinking time to offer what I believe are the top five best ways to leverage our individual effort as collective power,
Spoiler alert: none of these involve online petitions. Online petitions are about as effective as changing your Facebook status. I am willing to bet there isn’t one law Congress has passed, or rejected, based on an online petition. Signing an online petition is the king of lazy ways to assuage our conscience so we can feel like we did something, when in fact what we did was share our information with an organization that will now send us endless emails.
Here’s how we can use our individual voices as a collective to defend human and environmental rights:
- Add your Senators’ phone numbers into your phone as contacts. Like so: Senator Gardner: 303-391-5777; Senator Bennet: 303-455-7600. Use Gov Track to follow their votes on specific bills. Introduce yourself as a constituent, and remind them that their job is to represent your views. It takes less than five minutes to call and let them know what it is you care about. Calling is more effective than emailing, although emailing is excellent as well.
- Something my momma taught me a long time ago: “Money talks, and bullsh*t walks.” It’s harsh and it’s truer than ever. Check out If Then Fund—it’s a genius way to multiply the power of the largest lobby in the country: we, the people.Their mission: “Reshaping Congress by empowering small dollar donors to make contributions based on what politicians do—not what they promise. ”Here’s how it works: choose a bill Congress is voting on soon, then make a donation to be distributed to members of Congress based on the way they vote. Your position of “for” or “against” determines who receives your donation. For example, I oppose S. 106, the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, entirely.I found this bill at Gov Track, clicked on the “if.then.fund” icon, and entered “Oppose.” I then made a $10 contribution, which was split evenly among whoever the opponents will be of the four Senators (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee) who sponsored S. 106. for the next general election. Each of their opponents will receive $2.24 after fees are deducted from the donation. I am also proud to say I was the first person to do this, and put S. 106 on the If Then Fund homepage.
If we are serious about resisting the impending Death Star destruction of the incoming administration, we must put our money where our mouths are.
- Check out Brand New Congress. The mission: “We are recruiting and running more than 400 outstanding candidates in a single, unified, national campaign for Congress in 2018. Together, they will pass an aggressive and practical plan to significantly increase wages, remove the influence of big money from our government, and protect the rights of all Americans.” BNC needs volunteers with diverse skills sets, from coding to graphic design to event planning. It’s easy to sign up, and/or make a donation. Let’s do this!
- Join Our Revolution, where you can check out upcoming events within a specified radius of your zip code. Go to one of the upcoming Democratic Party Re-Organization meetings if you are unhappy with the current state of the Democratic Party—now is your chance.The mission: “Our Revolution will reclaim democracy for the working people of our country by harnessing the transformative energy of the ‘political revolution.’ Through supporting a new generation of progressive leaders, empowering millions to fight for progressive change and elevating the political consciousness…”The word revolution is loaded with connotations, often negative and violent, however, that is not what Our Revolution is about—in fact it is quite the opposite. Our Revolution is about using the laws of our current democracy to the fullest extent possible.
This February, Democratic Party Biennial Re-Organization meetings will be taking place in every county across the country. Two year terms are about to expire, and a majority of elected positions will be up for re-election. One only needs to be a registered as a Democrat in that district to take part in this process.There are 21 issues described with a detailed platform listed in bullet point format. There is about a 99 percent chance that the issue most important to you is listed on this site.
5. Again, money talks and bullsh*t walks. Boycotts are only effective if people are willing to walk their talk. Are you ready to commit to not spend your money at retailers who then use their profits to support and enable the policies of the incoming administration? If you haven’t already, check out The Orange List on Facebook.
The mission: “We will defeat them with our wallet and our voice.” If you are already a fan, share the page with at least 10 of your friends. The Orange List shares the reasons for why each specific retailer is included—you may be surprised at some of the names and why they’re there. I appreciate this sentiment, as well: “Ultimately the choice of whether that company should be held accountable is up to each individual.”I’m curious about the potential of contacting investment fund managers and requesting that any stocks of these companies be divested from and avoided. If we want our conscience to be clean, we need to take all possible steps for our money to be clean.
Every one of the above five items are things I have already taken personal action on.
I have called, and will continue to call my Senators. I am signed up as a volunteer with Brand New Congress. I am attending an event with Our Revolution. I make it a point not to spend my money at retailers mentioned on The Orange List. But none of that matters unless more—a lot more—of us participate.
This grand experiment of Democracy will fail only in as much as we fail to show up.
I mean this with all my heart: stop complaining if you are not going to show up and do something.
Author: Wren Siegel
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren