Since Donald J. Trump’s presidency, political activism has reached a new level of passion not seen since the 1960s. This past week, 58,000 individuals across the states joined The Women’s March, Indivisible and United State of Women in an online town-hall meeting to kick off a ‘Week of Action’. Many millennials are eager to do more than write a post on Facebook, but are at a loss as to how to be more politically engaged.
And let’s face it; politics is often pushed to the sidelines when we have other priorities, such as paying bills and working on our next promotion. But here are 5 easy tips on how you can be politically active without stretching yourself too thin.
Stay Informed and Call Your Representatives
One of the most obvious ways you can take action is calling your congressman or senator on issues you care about. It can be as simple as saving your representatives’ phone number on your cell and calling them on your way to work in the morning. Or during your lunch break. However, when you do call, it’s helpful to know which bills (and their fancy names) are being introduced to Congress. By entering your address in GovTrack.us, you can find your representatives and literally ‘track’ which legislation is currently being debated in Congress.
Donate to Organizations that Support Your Cause
There’s a myriad of organizations advocating for a variety of different political issues which could use your donation now. If you care about reproductive rights or health care, considering donating to Planned Parenthood. To support equal pay for women in the workforce, donate to the American Association for University Women (AAUW), National Organization of Women (NAO) or the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). If you are passionate about conservation and want to prevent climate change, donate to National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) or the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). If you are passionate about civil rights, donating to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) or Showing Up For Racial Justice, may be the way to go. And these are just a few of the many out there!
Boycott Companies That Support Trump’s Agenda
More companies are being targeted for their politics than in recent memory. It’s common to hear business leaders and Trump hash out their differences on Twitter. Many companies are using politics to market their brands, such as Airbnb and Budweiser. Customers are forcing companies to care about political issues. For instance, Uber became entangled in a PR nightmare during the protest against the travel ban when customers began deleting their app and registering for Lyft. When Lyft pledged to donate $1 million dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union, Uber lost more customers to Lyft than ever before. Uber couldn’t let this happen and decided to one-up Lyft by donating $2 million dollars. So don’t underestimate the power of your purse strings and discover which brands to boycott here.
Form or Join a Grassroots Activist Group
Sooner or later, taking political action means working with others. There is always strength in numbers. Using Facebook, start a group with friends in your city or town and plan to meet once a week or once a month. If you don’t have time to start your own group, join a more established activist network, like United State of Women. By joining an experienced activist organization, you not only save time, but also gain access to a plethora of resources and information on important events. For instance, United State of Women offers access to detailed guidelines on how to organize yourself politically, from hosting local strategy sessions and scheduling visits with elected officials. When you sign up online, United State of Women will send a free toolkit handy-guide on best activist practices right to your inbox.
With the aid of experienced organizations, many woman are taking political action for the first time. According to Taylor A. Barnes, the Director of United State of Women, Catherine D. of Iowa spoke to her Congressman for the first time during her participation in Week of Action. And Linda K. of California, in response to her newfound political action, said: “I am a 62 year old woman who has never protested in my life until the Women’s March. But then, I have never … had such a strong visceral feeling of being in danger before. I am ready to fight for my values and I am in it for the long run.”
Attend a Protest or Rally Prepared
Get your walking-shoes on and take to the streets. Attending a protest can be inspiring and cathartic because it’s a chance to literally make your voice heard. There are three items you should pack: a water bottle, a bag of snacks, and business cards. You will be expending a lot energy, so it’s important to fuel your body with snacks and water. Business cards will come in handy because a protest or rally is a great opportunity to network with fellow like-minded people. Most importantly, know your rights if you are arrested. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offers legal advice for protestors.
Democracy is hard, but it can be as simple as mailing a post card or calling a member of Congress. In response to the United State of Women’s Week of Action, Taylor A. Barnes says, “Democracy is not a spectator sport and we’re thrilled to see so many women raising their voices about the issues that matter most to their communities.”