Taking Action: Things You Can Do *Right Now* to Help Fix the Country
When every day seems to be worse than the last, it can be hard to know what to do. When you do try to help, it can feel a little like bringing a pale of water to a forest fire. But ignoring our problems as a country will not make them go away and if you are waiting for someone to tell you what to do, respectfully — you may already be behind.
For some of the things you see on this list, you may wonder how it will help change the political course of our country. People do not like to hear that our problems are complicated, but the fact is, they are. It is important to realize there are no quick fixes and no one thing on its own that will solve every single problem. The kind of change that led to this current administration took generations of things like: anger, poor government policy that favors the 1 percent of the working class, the marginalization of minority communities, the rise of powerful lobbyists that have co-opted the political process, the decline of civic engagement as a virtue, and institutionalized misogyny.
Many people are waiting for that one big solution to show itself (many people think that solution is Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but it’s not). As a former military analyst, I know that there are tactical wins and losses, but it’s the long-term outcome that counts. Most of the things on this list are tactical actions you can do now that are long-term investments in our communities. Every problem in this country can be traced back to smaller things — events, decisions, actions or lack of actions. For example, the lack of critical thinking skills in this country can be traced back to things like our school curriculum to the lack of good literacy programs in some locations to the growing culture of not valuing reading and the written word.
No matter where you live, there are many existing local and national organizations you can plug into, either in person or remotely. If what you want to do does not already exist, build it!
If there’s not a protest planned in your area, plan one.
If there’s not a voter registration drive happening, organize one.
If a problem in your community needs fixing, circulate a petition.
If you want a particular candidate elected, volunteer.
The list below isn’t definitive, but it’s a start. There are things everyone can do regardless of income, location, or ability.
- Vote in every election for every level of government.
- Volunteer for a political campaign (from school board to congressional races, every campaign needs volunteers). Campaigns need help on everything, like:
- Managing their social media.
- Phone banks.
- Organizing events.
- Putting up yard signs.
- Graphic design.
- Expanding their networks (everything from putting them in contact with “influencers” to writing all of your friends about why they should support and/or donate to the campaign).
- Generating written content.
- Holding fundraisers.
- Website design and maintenance.
- People to attend events with them, like marching in parades.
- Policy advice.
- Writing letters to editor, op-eds, and supportive social media posts.
- Donate to political campaigns.
- Register voters.
- Join Get Out the Vote groups, like Postcard to Voters or Text The Voter.
- Support groups that train women to run for office, like Emerge.
3. Contact your representatives and tell them what you think and why.
4. Attend public hearings, town halls, and city council meetings.
5. Circulate petitions on local issues that matter to help galvanize and inform.
6. Hold candidates accountable for running inclusive campaigns (e.g. push them to reach out to minority voters, hold events in accessible locations, etc.)
7. Ask your county’s Board of Elections about the accessibility of polling locations. (In 2016, the Government Accountability Office found that 60 percent of polling locations surveyed were inaccessible to voters with disabilities in at least one or more ways.)
8. Join your local Democratic committee and/or support regional political groups.
- Volunteer for a community literacy program.
- Support your public library (the more people who have access to learning opportunities, the better).
- Volunteer at your local food pantry.
- Donate or volunteer at your local homeless or women’s shelter.
- Volunteer for your local YMCA or YWCA.
- Support your local arts programs.
- Volunteer for community after school programs.
- Support local newspapers by subscribing.
- Donate items (like furniture) or time to immigration or refugee programs that help people settle into communities.
Creating an Inclusive Society:
- Encourage local businesses to make their facilities accessible to people with disabilities.
- If you organize local events, teach at public or private schools or universities, or work in anything that involves access, review what policy changes you can make to ensure that people from every background have access.
- Review your company or workplace hiring and recruiting practices for exclusion red flags.
- Support organizations fighting for civil rights.
- Bring in guest expert speakers for public education events.
- Donate books to the library and/or set up a little free library.
- If you have the means, set up a scholarship program to help someone pay for college/training.
- Elevate expert voices through social media and elsewhere.