Democracy is a lifestyle:
Trump is a symptom of the corruption, institutional failure, and indifference that we can no longer tolerate.
Get a Guide. Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story by Martin Luther King Jr. is an essential guide to self-management, managing others, and building teams. This inspirational case study of resistance, written by a young MLK after successfully leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, shows how smart organization took on the authoritarianism of the Jim Crow South. Never forget that MLK was considered a radical in his day even though there’s nothing radical about demanding human rights and dignity. Today, the same remains true: it’s not “radical” or “socialist” to demand that corporations stop polluting for profits and to call for an end to tax breaks, like for sending jobs overseas, that worsen the income inequality crisis. To help communicate these urgent issues, another essential guide is The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff.
Focus on State Races. States decide key quality of life issues and local candidates help drive votes up ballot for federal races. Every District and Future Now are two excellent groups working to build a progressive infrastructure and turn states blue from the bottom up. Get involved by donating what you can and/or join or start your own group with their help in your state. Here are our interviews with Every District (full episode) and with Future Now (last ~20 minutes of the episode) for more background.
Join. Grassroots power is one of the strongest forms of power we have left in America, especially with Mitch McConnell and Trump packing the courts. Don’t succumb to savior syndrome by expecting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- or whoever else you admire -- to do all the work. Representatives are human and need our help. Fulfill the far-right’s worst nightmare by creating generations of AOC’s by helping build a more progressive union. Join a local group from any of these great national organizations for important action-alerts like demonstrations and getting out the vote: Indivisible, Swing Left, Sister District, MoveOn, Flippable.
Fight Global Warming. Sunrise Movement is a grassroots organization demanding a Green New Deal. There are a lot of other groups working to adopt urgently needed green initiatives: C40 Cities connects cities around the world committed to taking climate action; 350.org helps activists rise to the challenge of the climate crisis; and here are more trusted organizations that need our support!
Unionize. In the age of Trump, there should be no more fear of starting or joining a union: just tell your boss that you saw how unions protected workers during the universally unpopular Trump shutdown. Fight for 15 and its local variants are also working to ensure a fair wage and strengthen unions in the service sector. Don’t know how to get started? Read Organizing to Win: New Research on Union Strategies and No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age.
Run for Something. There are a lot of great groups out there that demystify the process of becoming a candidate and running a campaign. Run for Something is one of our favorites. There’s even a book to help get you started: Run for Something: A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself by Amanda Litman. If you believe in facts/science and are a compassionate human being, you need to run for something and recruit others to as well. Even if it’s a longshot, you can still create urgent conversations and treat your campaign like a platform for discussions you care about, helping bring together like minded people to work for change even long past the election. Just look at what a refreshing discovery “long shot” Mayor Pete has been and all the great work Andrew Gillum continues to do to register 1 million voters in Florida.
Protect the Vote. EveryDistrict Action Fund just launched a “report card” identifying states with enough progressive support in the local governments to push through important voting reforms like automatic registration and the abolishment of racist voter ID laws. Is your state on the list? If so, EveryDistrict Action Fund empowers you to help your state reach the gold standard of voting. Concerned about vote hacking and Ivanka Trump-branded voting machines? Secure Our Vote provides background info and other resources to take action. Other groups to check out are Spread the Vote, Let America Vote, and Project ID which help people get the information they need to register, vote, and get an ID.
Launch Ballot Initiatives and Laws. Why not launch a ballot initiative? Katie Fahey turned her Facebook post into the movement Voters Not Politicians to end gerrymandering in Michigan. It passed overwhelmingly. Read more on her story here! Or you could build a grassroots coalition to get a law passed in your state. In our episode on how to “Pass a Law,” Andrea interviewed her mother about how she, while pregnant with Andrea and a young mother without any political experience, mobilized a grassroots army to pass the child carseat law in California. Yes, it can be done!
End Terrorism in America. Moms Demand works to elect candidates and lobby for sensible legislation to stop the gun violence epidemic driven by the blood-money gun lobby, the NRA. Southern Poverty Law Center exposes white supremacy, a leading terrorist movement in America. To help immigrant communities deliberately terrorized by Trump’s cruel border policies, here’s a list of groups to support.
Make Art. To say that art cannot make a difference stems from a tone deaf attiude of privilege: Ukraine’s EuroMaidan revolution of 2013-2014 relied on art and artists of all kinds to sustain protesters living in arctic-cold temperatures and under the threat of government-sanctioned violence; North Korean dissident Yeonmi Park said that Orwell’s Animal Farm helped her heal after escaping the cult-like dictatorship; and in our episode “The Blue Wave Continues: Kansas Rising” we share Davis Hammet’s account of how painting a rainbow house created a ripple effect in Kansas, leading to major electoral victories. We need the artists and storytellers of all kinds more than ever.
This is not a comprehensive list of suggestions on how you can create a more progressive America and stop entrenched corruption. There are many paths you can take, and we encourage you to think for yourselves and work together. There is no one solution. Whether you’re in a blue state or red state, these ideas apply to you — do not take any of the freedoms you have left for granted. Never underestimate the power of hard work.
It’s also essential to read widely to understand how we got here and the best ways to navigate the challenges of the 21st century. Check out our Reading Guide for some books that we have found helpful.