So how do you begin? How do you resist? What does your activism look like? It can be hard to figure out what to do. So many people are frustrated with the results of the election, or the way things are changing. But what can you do about it?
One of the first things I did after the election was write down what I cared about or was worried about. What were the issues I felt most strongly about? I also made a list of what I would or wouldn’t do to prevent normalization of current events. Goals such as be kind, always look around you for ways you can help others, do not let fear affect your actions, check sources, etc.
The next step is to know yourself. Are you a marcher? Caller? Can you confront someone, put yourself in an uncomfortable situation for a greater good? Do you work best in committees or within the party?
Marching is fun, it energizes, it surrounds you with dedicated people and it is a visible resistance that can’t be denied. Numbers count, showing up matters. It also allows you to support a number of causes. If you will be a marcher, there are websites that list some of them. Michael Moore’s Resistance Calendar, rallylist.com. Just search the web. There are guidelines. Clear backpacks are recommended for security, be prepared to stand or walk, bring water and snacks, make a sign.
Callers can work on their own or with a group. Get on your Michigan and US senators’ and representatives ‘ email lists. Call daily to give them your opinion on legislation. You can find out what’s coming up online as well. You can also work in a group. I work with Michigan Resistance (michiganresistance.org). You can get a weekly email detailing upcoming Michigan legislation that Democratic legislators feel can be affected, and a list of legislators to call who are on the fence. You can also come to calling parties, where we socialize, have munchies, and make those calls as well as reach out to other Michigan democrats. You can sign up for Daily Action on your phone or Facebook, or 5 calls which text you with calls you can make.
- If you’re uncomfortable calling, write. Write a letter, a postcard, an email. You can fax, using faxzero.com.
- You can attend town halls. You can find out when they are by calling your legislators office. Be prepared with questions you want answered. Go with friends.
- You can join a group. Many groups have sprung up since the election. I am afraid some of them are fizzling out as they have no direction or are fragmenting what should be state efforts. If you want to combat gerrymandering, join CountMIvote and Voters Not Politicians. They are proposing a state amendment for a nonpartisan board to draw districts. You can also sign up to volunteer with them. There are many Indivisible groups ( Indivisible Southern Genesee County-Northern Oakland meets in Fenton or you could start your own up in Flint), League of Women Voters, huddles (there is a Flint Huddle) and many others. I wish we had a clearinghouse/umbrella site in the party to coordinate these groups and help people find them. The Michigan Resistance is trying to work across groups to organize legislative resistance, but I’d like to see the party coordinating these and leading.
- Of course, there are activist groups and caucuses within the party and in our own Genesee County party. There is the Progressive caucus, the women’s caucus, and many others. Check the party website to see them all. There are committees working on many things in the GCDP. They are always looking for new members.
- Don’t forget your local cities and townships. You can attend meetings, speak or submit letters, and work to help your community locally.
- You can run for office or work on a campaign.
- You can donate. Money talks. Support a group like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or the Southern Poverty Law Center, or check out campaigns where you think a seat can be flipped.
- You can volunteer in your community…voter registration, campaigns, literacy, homeless shelters, etc.
Remember, activism is a way of life. It means watching constantly for ways to stand up for what you believe, to stand next to and help someone being bullied or harassed, to not stay silent in the face of ugliness or lies, to insist on truth and fairness, to educate yourself on issues and stay informed (Read. Read a lot. You can subscribe to the NYT, the Washington Post, and read books like Evicted, and The New Jim Crow), to examine your own life and views to see where you are blind to your own privilege and assumptions and what you need to change, to look around to understand the lives and needs of those around you, to go out of your comfort zone if need be, to show up, to confront, to support, to fight. It can be big, like the Women’s March, or it may be as small as recycling more. We can’t rely on someone else to do the work.
So, get out there and make a difference!
Susan Hendricks is a Guest Blogger for the Genesee County Democratic Party, local activist and host of Michigan Resistance calling parties.