Contributed by Cindi Sternfeld.
Just about every day over the past three+ years, I’ve gone to bed with a pang of fear in my belly about the state of our nation and woken up the next with a jolt of determination.
Now, as we enter this new, long anticipated, election year, I want to speak to both your fear and your determination. I think many of us have been fearful, but we borrowed courage from each other and acted when the moment required.
Friends, if there was ever a time to lend and borrow both the courage and determination to act, it is now. We’ve been living in a dystopian novel for the past three years. We cannot sit back and wait for “other people” to speak out and show up.
The answers to the question of why some of my friends and relatives have or have not engaged in political activism are widely varied. Among those who haven’t taken action or have been primarily keyboard warriors, they seem to feel that activism is not a good use of their time and that nothing we do will matter; that influencing the political landscape is beyond their reach. Out of my informal survey of about 50 people, only one said that they did not know the ways they could get involved. (If you are reading this and you are like that one person, read to the end and I’ll provide resources.)
Among the active ones, most had never attempted to influence politics and initially found that connecting with other concerned citizens was fun and helped to allay their fears. As time went on, they learned that their contribution did make a difference. If you doubt this, I point you to Tom Malinowski’s win in NJ07 or that Helen Tai was the first Democrat in 34 years to win a special election and she was the first woman and first person of color ever. In addition, in the general election, Helen came within 600 votes of winning the Pennsylvania 178th! We have had many wins over the past three years, aided by many first-time activists who dug deep to find the courage they didn’t know they had to step up and speak out.
I recognize that the threats to our democracy by this president, our Attorney General and others can feel overwhelming. They make remembering the wins more challenging and more important than ever. But I promise you, we are making a difference.
My own activism is a bit self-serving. There is a story about the Dutch-born American clergyman and activist, A.J Muste, who protested the Vietnam War. It is said that a reporter once asked Muste, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?” Muste responded, “Oh I don’t do this to change the country, I do this so the country won’t change me.”
The opposite of activism is not passivity, it is apathy. We will all need to reach deep this year and find our reason for, and our courage to act. Remember every bit of fear and sadness you felt in the aftermath of the 2016 election: Use it as fuel to action and others will be motivated by your example. The stakes could not be higher. We can not depend on “other people” to do this because every one of us is needed for this effort.
Today I am asking you to join me in this work. Do not let this president change you — but if he does, let it be for the better. If you are already doing more than you have ever done before, I thank you and I believe that future generations will thank you. The next 10 months will determine no less than the fate of our democracy.
On Wednesday, November 4th, 2020, will you be able to say that you did all you could save our democracy? And if not, who will you blame?
Check out these resources and get moving!
- Our January Community Gathering will have a smorgasbord of ways to get active – come check them out.
- The MoveOn Text Team is a nationwide community of volunteers using the power of peer-to-peer text messaging to mobilize members and voters across the country. You will use their platform to send texts using your computer or phone but you will NOT use your phone number or your email address. If you need any help to sign up or get started let us know and we can provide it! To join the MoveOn Text Team click on front.moveon.org
- Become a Deep Canvasser with Changing The Conversation in Bucks CTCTogether.org or ask to join the closed facebook page titled, Changing The Conversation in Bucks.
- ResistBot is a platform that enables you to communicate with your Congressperson and your Senators. Using the Resistbot platform, you can turn a text message from your phone into an email, fax or postal letter. It is quick and easy and a great way to be heard. To sign up with Resistbot, text 50409 to get started.
- IndivisibleLNH.com calendar and our closed and public facebook pages are all resources that can connect you to local action
ILNH Monthly Community Meeting dates: When you attend an ILNH Community Gathering, you can connect with other concerned people and learn ways to get your activism on. If you already attend our monthly meetings but would benefit from a little more encouragement, reach out to our Membership Chairs Nancy Boelter at firstname.lastname@example.org or Paige Barnett by email at email@example.com