If you’re like me, you might find the madness of politics in this country can be so disheartening that it’s exhausting that you tune out the news much of the time. While it’s perfectly ok not to follow every twist and turn of this drama, you should remember that the Trump administration has rolled back 64 environmental protections and denies that climate change is even happening. We do need to take whatever action we can to change the situation and elect a president and congress that will prioritize the environment over polluting industries. To that end, here are a few suggestions for how you can contribute your time and money as a citizen.
- Contribute your time by volunteering for a political campaign or cause: Ok, I confess, I have not done at all this year. I have a few excuses. First, with two kids and a job, I’m a very busy guy. Second, I hate cold calling people. Third, I consider the right choices so obvious this November that I actually have a hard time respecting anyone who sees it any other way, which makes me probably not the right person for the job.
However, volunteering is a very important way that you can contribute to positive change. Besides cold calls, you can volunteer to knock on doors, perform planning and data entry tasks, send text messages, or write postcards to voters for specific candidates and campaigns.
- Contribute your money: I’ve contributed more money this year than I ever have in the past. My $30-50 contributions are small, but these things add up and recently reached the point where Mitch McConnel is complaining that his party’s fundraising is being overwhelmed by small donations to Act Blue. I’ve donated to candidates as well as organized political groups that are fighting as hard as they can.
- Write letters: Writing letters is an effective way to increase voter turnout and it is easy to do for busy introverts like me. You can sign up with vote forward or another organization to write letters to people in swing states that have voted in the past but have not always been reliable voters. Their “big send” date is October 17, a date chosen to ensure that letters will reach the (potential) voters before election day but arrive as close as possible to the big day to spur people to action. Their experiments have showing that sending letters by snail mail increases voter turnout by 3-5%. If your family sends out 20-34 letters, you will get the mathematical expectation of one vote in a swing state.
Given the screwed up nature of our electoral system where Biden winning the popular vote by over 8% but failing to win the presidency is a real possibility, it can be tough at times to feel like you have a voice. I want to remind you that you are not entirely powerless. With millions of concerned citizens acting together, we can make a real difference. There’s no guarantee we’ll win, but we need to try our best.