To Do List for Saving Democracy
The 2022 elections are shaping up to be as crucial as the 2020 presidential election. Here is a list of things you can do for this election and 2024.
#1: Run for Something (or help someone else run for something)
Want to really make a difference in politics and government? Don’t just march, run for something.
Run for Something recruits and supports young first-time candidates running for local office with the goal of building progressive infrastructure at the state and local levels and winning sustainable power.
Make sure things are done right. Be the person in charge.
If you can’t run for something, find someone you know who would be terrific, and encourage that person to run. You can also volunteer to help Run for Something screen candidates.
If you are in California, check out Close The Gap, a group trying to elect more women to office.
#2: Make sure you are connected with your local politics
This includes school boards and local offices.
One reason the Tea Party was successful was that its members organized locally and put pressure on local officials.
It’s true — all politics is local. Republicans know this so they fight for those all-important local offices.
#3: Get involved with your local elections
Good poll workers help voters vote. Bad poll workers make it harder for people to vote. Hence the need for good poll workers. If the 2020 election fiasco taught us anything it’s the importance of the people who administer elections and count the votes.
Elections workers are under attack from those trying to undermine elections, so good, courageous people are desperately needed.
If you have extra time (or you’re an experienced poll worker) find how you can move into a more official position. Be an election judge (states have different jobs and different job titles), or one of the people counting and tabulating the votes. The more people dedicated to democracy in these positions, the better.
For information, start here.
#5 Become a Voting Squad Captain
Michelle Obama’s organization, When We All Vote, is recruiting Voting Squad Captains. Sign up here.
#6: Register New Voters
Start now. In some states, you can become an official volunteer voter registrar. James Williams in Maryland told how he did it in his state
#7: Be a Community Organizer
Do you have a talent for organizing? If so, democracy needs you.
For example. voter suppression laws are basically hurdles: They make it harder for people to vote. The antidote is to organize and help people over the hurdles.
#8: Be An Institutionalist
Our democratic institutions are under attack. So what should you do? Defend them. Defend Institutions is #2 on @TimothyDSnyder‘s list in his book, On Tyranny.
What’s an institutionalist and how do you become one? See this post.
#9: Support the Democratic Party
As the Republican Party further radicalizes and glorifies lawbreaking, the Democratic Party, which is trying to hold on to rule of law and democratic norms, is the only thing saving us from Trump-style autocracy.
Any questions about this, read this post from Heather Cox Richardson.
#10: If you are a teacher consider an assignment requiring students to advocate on behalf of an issue of their choice. . .
. . . or allow/encourage your students to substitute an assignment with a civic engagement activity of some kind. They are the future. Empower them.
#11: Also, if you’re a teacher, assign novels and stories about real-life young people who step up and do what the adults seem unable to manage
Just look at the Parkland students, who, incidentally, were raised on a steady stream of dystopian novels in which young people save the nation.
#12: Become a Social Engineer
What do I mean? See this post.
#13: Help People Become Citizens
Support low-cost immigration services, volunteer at an organization such as CUNY Citizenship, or at organizations that tutor English and civics for the naturalization test.
#14: Subscribe to local newspapers and national journals that do good investigative reporting
If everyone does this, lots of money will get pumped into news reporting. We need good reporters.
#15: Make your views known
Put a sign on your lawn.
Americans of Conscience has ideas for letters you can write to elected officials.
#16: Take mental health breaks
If you spend too much time on social media and you feel upset, get away from the screen. There are outrage merchants who get clicks and hook people by keeping them frightened. Fox News also hooks people by playing on their fears. Now left-leaners have discovered that outrage accounts also generate clicks (and everyone wants to be popular.) Yes, democracy is fragile. That is not new. It’s always been fragile, it’s just that a lot of people didn’t realize it before.
In fact, America really didn’t start becoming a true liberal democracy until after the modern civil rights and women’s rights movement. For most of our history, we were ruled by a small group of white Christian men. That wasn’t democracy. What is happening now (a move toward a true multi-racial democracy) is creating a powerful backlash.
If you think things have never been this bad and we’re facing something entirely new, think about what life was like in 1860 for a Black woman. She didn’t even own her own body, literally. We’ve come a long way, and people are working hard to push us backward. We have to dig in our heels and push forward.
Democracy means rule by the people.
This is literally what it means. Demos is from Greek. It means people or citizens. Kratos means power. Democracy means the citizens have the power.
That means us.
What? Did you think someone else should do all the work?
I often say that democracy will survive if enough people want it to, and are willing to do the work. People think I’m being optimistic. Nope, because there is no telling what people will do or want. That’s why I often write about the appeal of autocracy. (See this post.)
Nobody owes you a democracy.
Do you want it? You have to work for it.