Don't get mad; Get political! Feel like your needs and values aren't being represented? The challenging news is that you've got a fight ahead. The good news is that there are several strategies to employ! Here are just a few of the ways you can get political to create change:
Contact your legislator. This is one of the easiest things you can do. Pick up your phone, call your legislator, and express your opinion. You can also send emails or physically show up at their offices but there is evidence to show that phone calls are by far the most effective way to communicate to your representatives. Nobody answering? Leave a voicemail or call again!
Vote! We know that some folks don't have a lot of faith in the electoral system. There are certainly some very big problems with the voting system as it's currently structured – from the gerrymandering of districts to voter oppression to the disenfranchisement of specific populations. All of this said though, your vote really does still matter. Take the time to register to vote and make your voice heard each and every election day.
Encourage others to vote. Already a committed voter? Consider taking the time to help others register to vote, ensuring that even more folks participate in this critical process. Want to join a movement of getting folks to the voting booth? Connect
with organizations like March On and MoveOn.org. Live in
a community or state that already votes progressive? Consider joining efforts to swing elections blue in other states, like Swing Left and The Sister District Project.
Run for office. Unhappy with the work of your representatives? Want to see more diverse representation (gender, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) in your electorate? Make it happen by throwing your hat in the ring! There are some great organizations to provide support to women candidates - Emerge America, Emily's List, She Should Run, VoteRunLead – as well as groups specifically focused on candidates who are women of color (The Collective PAC, Higher Heights, LatinasRepresent), LGBTQ, immigrants, and veterans. And while there are of course opportunities to run for national office, don't overlook opportunities close to home like local councils and commissions. We need more representative voices everywhere, from neighborhoods to national!
Attend public meetings. While things on the national stage may seem dire, action at a local level is just as important. Pay attention to what your city council is doing and attend public meetings to express your opinions. This can be especially important when legislation and policies are being considered that disproportionally affect folks who may not be able to speak out effectively for themselves (for example, immigrants without documentation). Use your privilege to advocate for someone else.
Want to learn more? Here are some links to check out (Note: Many of them were written immediately after the 2016 election and so focus on how to combat Trump administration policies and legislation. However, the same strategies and ideas can be used on almost any issue!):
- “The Best Ways to Contact Your Congresspeople, From a Former Staffer” by Eric Ravenscraft (Lifehacker)
- “Black Women Are Running for Office – And It's Just What America Needs” – She Should Run
- “If You Want to Run for Office (And You Should), Start With These Resources” – Osita Nwanevu (Slate)
- “Run for Office” by Osita Nwanevu (Slate)
- “Women of Color in Politics” – Rutgers University Center for American Women and Politics