I’ve always been a passionate, fiery progressive, but until Trump, I was also a lazy progressive. Every 4 years I would donate to Democratic presidential candidates or occasionally to Virginia’s Democratic Senate candidates. Other than that, my politics just involved getting fired up while watching Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher on the TV, or having spirited debates with conservatives at social gatherings. I’d get worked up, yet I was doing almost nothing of actual value for the blue team.
Then came Trump’s surprising win, and a lying, sexually-assaulting, racist, climate change-denying con artist became the most powerful man in the world. From November 9 through January 20 (Inauguration Day), I felt hopeless and actually told myself I needed to stop following the news for 4 years to make myself feel better. I decided that the R.E.M. lyrics “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy” would become my motto to get through the Trump years. But as much as I tried, I couldn’t help sneaking peeks at the headlines on my news app. They were horrible, with the current administration rolling back environmental protections, trying to implement a racist travel ban, carrying out mass deportations that separated families, reigniting the nuclear arms race, nominating shockingly unqualified and scandal-ridden people for Cabinet posts, etc., etc.
But on January 21, all that changed. I was incredibly inspired by news of 3 million people across the country peacefully marching against Trump, the largest protest in U.S. history. That day I realized, apathy was not the answer. I needed to do something!
Since then, I’ve tried most days to do something small for the Resistance, whether it’s making phone calls or sending faxes to elected officials, donating to progressive candidates, or attending local political events. The one silver lining to the Trumpocalypse is that it has awakened myself and thousands of progressives into ACTION.
So what can we do? Many of us are very busy with work and families, but being politically active doesn’t have to be very time-consuming. Here are some easy ways to turn your frustration with the current administration into tangible action:
Daily Action app
Every morning, you'll receive a text that links you to your Senator, member of Congress, or other appropriate official with a suggested script about an issue. To join, text the word “Daily” to the number 228466. The first couple of times I called the offices of my Senators/Representative, I was a bit nervous, but the staff are always very nice as they write down my message, and each call only takes a couple of minutes.
This app allows you to contact your Senators and Representative by fax. Text “Resist” to 50409. After you sign up, it will prompt you to type a message to your elected officials, and it will generate the fax with your address included to show them that you’re their constituent. Texting “house” after your message will send the fax just to your Representative; texting “senate” will send the fax just to your Senators.
Donate to and volunteer for progressive candidates
Every dollar helps progressive candidates get closer to winning. Bernie Sanders’ campaign broke fundraising records by harnessing the power of small donors, with an average donation of $27. I donate small amounts here and there to candidates in potential swing districts who capture my interest. Right now I’m closely following and donating to Jon Ossoff’s bid for the U.S. House seat in Georgia. The special election there on April 18 would be a great chance to pull off a Democratic victory.
The following article lists all of the Democrats who are running for the Virginia General Assembly:
If your district is already solidly blue, you can sign up with Sister District to find a competitive race in another area to donate to/volunteer for. Sign up now, and after the June primaries, they’ll match you with a Sister Race in a swing district.
Follow state and local politics, and attend local political events
Before Trump, I knew who my U.S. Senators were, but I’ll admit that I didn’t know who my Representative was. Even further off my radar was my delegate and state senator in the Virginia General Assembly. Now I have the contact info for all of the above programmed into my phone so that I can call their offices easily to share any comments or concerns that I have as a constituent. Severe gerrymandering in Virginia has skewed state politics strongly Republican despite Virginia being solidly blue at the presidential and U.S. Senate levels the last couple of election cycles. Therefore, calling our state elected officials regularly about bills in front of the General Assembly is just as important as phone calls for national politics. Since the inauguration, I have attended progressive activist meetings and a Republican town hall meeting, and this week I’ll be attending my first City Council meeting to advocate for teacher raises. Many progressives like myself did not follow state and local politics before Trump, and the result is that many Republican elected officials ran unopposed. Hopefully we won’t make the mistake of overlooking state and local politics again!
Not sure who your elected officials are? The following websites can help:
These days, it’s often still hard to read the news headlines, BUT I feel so much better knowing that I’m taking action to help progressive causes and candidates. Viva la Resistance!
-- Mary Vause