Take a deep breath. Then take action.
By Alex Skozen, OFA Digital
Every week, it seems like the current administration and Congress are just going through a list of issues progressive organizers care most about and dedicating their efforts to rolling back our hard-won progress. And it’s not just on big-ticket items like Obamacare — they’re also going after lesser-known common-sense measures, such as those that make it harder for the mentally ill to buy a gun and a rule that prevented financial advisors from bilking their customers’ retirement savings. It’s troubling to see years of progress and hard work on the line, but here’s how community organizers get through it: We take action.
Keep in mind that progress never comes served on a silver platter; we’ve always had to work for it. From marriage equality to climate change to health care reform, it’s taken years — sometimes decades — of sustained effort from a broad base of citizens to bring these issues to the forefront and persuade decision-makers to move us forward. So in that sense, this new political climate is no different. We’ve been here before.
When the news gets to be overwhelming, take a deep breath, think of how far we’ve come and how it came about, and remember that we community organizers carry that torch. Organizing, speaking out, and standing up for what’s right is what we do — and we’re not going to back down now.
There will certainly be more fights to come and more ways to push back, but here’s a short list of actions we can take right now.
If you’re worried about the prospect of Obamacare being repealed: Well, we are too. But this is a fight we can win — enough lawmakers can see that their constituents are truly worried about what will happen, and they’re starting to waver. Help keep the pressure on these legislators — here are just a few ways:
- Sign the petition to hear more about this ongoing campaign, including events in your area and ways to connect with other organizers. Stay tuned for online trainings and invitations to calls with coalition partners.
- Then, call key senators. OFA’s call tool will connect you with specific lawmakers who can make or break the fight to protect the Affordable Care Act. In order to defend this law, the consumer protections it entails, and the 32 million Americans who depend on Obamacare for their health coverage, these legislators need to hear from you. They really, really need to hear from you. Make it part of your daily routine that you let them know you won’t stand for Obamacare repeal.
- Then, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Share your personal story about why this issue is important to you. Through years of organizing experience, we’ve found that personal stories can be one of the most effective ways to change hearts and minds. (And make sure you select “Health Care” from the drop-down box.)
- Finally, be ready for recess. Representatives are going to be in their home districts from February 17–26 — follow the Town Hall Project 2018 on Twitter and Facebook to learn where you can meet your lawmakers in person.
If you’re concerned about the status of immigrants and refugees, or maybe you think the travel ban on individuals from seven Muslim-majority nations and the promise to build a wall on our border with Mexico are harmful, discriminatory, and un-American, here’s what you can do:
- Stay in the loop. If you want to stay updated on developments about immigration and refugees — and what you can do to help — add your name.
- Then, call your senator. This is a quick and effective way to let your voice be heard, since Senate offices are required to record your concerns once you are connected. We put together a simple tool that will connect you to a lawmaker that needs to hear from you on the recent executive order.
- Then, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Letters published in local publications let your community and local leaders know where you stand and may inspire other like-minded individuals to speak up as well. Our tool will walk you through the process — make sure you select “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” from the dropdown under the issue heading.
There’s so much amazing energy out there right now. People are taking their passion to the streets, contacting local representatives, having important conversations with neighbors and friends, and getting involved in the civic process. If you’re looking to maximize your impact and want to stay plugged in, here are a few ways to do just that:
- Apply for OFA’s Community Engagement Fellowship. Learn the ins and outs of effective organizing. The course is completely free-of-charge, but space is limited — apply before the February 20 deadline.
- Then, find an OFA chapter near you. Submit your information, and someone from OFA will reach out to get you connected.
- Can’t find a chapter near you? Host a planning meeting yourself. It’s no more difficult than inviting friends and neighbors over for snacks and a chat.
- Then, join our online organizing platform, Connect. This is a great way to jump into the organizing conversations that are happening on important issues and form partnerships with other passionate citizens near you and across the country.
- Want to speak up about something else? Use the switchboard. Got something specific in mind that you’d like to contact your senator about? Get connected via the United States Capitol switchboard. There are no points for creativity, so just voice your concern, give them your ZIP code, and say “thanks.” That’s it! The switchboard number is (202) 224–3121.
- Finally, make sure you’re getting the facts. Follow the OFA Truth Team on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for the Truth Team’s weekly digest of the news, delivered straight to your inbox every weekend.
At the end of the day, we are responsible for the change we want to see, and it’s on us to get this work done. Let’s do it.
Originally published at www.ofa.us.