I am so angry about so many wrongs transpiring in our country right now, from voter disenfranchisement to threats to women’s reproductive rights to immigrant family separations to our president selling us down the river to Russia.
And perhaps you, too, are furious about the current state of the world. But at the same time, you may find that you are way overwhelmed with your own life. The combination of kids, bills, sick friends or relatives, work pressures, and general day-to-day hassles can make you feel like there is little you can do to keep your own head above water, a feeling that can be further exacerbated by the sense there’s nothing you can do to turn the tide of national and world events.
If anyone gets that sense of impotent rage, it is me. I am not only furious at the state of the world on a pretty regular basis, I am also a mother of six kids under 15. These days, I’m busy just trying to get my youngest to literally keep her shit together — there’s nothing like dealing with a kid who’s spontaneously pooping her pants at camp. I’m also trying to maintain some semblance of my career and some semblance of my sanity. Yeah, good luck with that.
Still, believe it or not, I manage to find some small slices of time during which I try to do my part to get our democracy back on track — and no, I’m not a hero who has solved the conundrum of “work-life balance.” Rather, I call it “armchair activism” — low-stress ways to make a real difference in what is going on in our country. These are all things that can be done without a lot of money, stage presence, donors, or that most precious commodity of all: time.
The following eight actions may be small things — but if we all do them, they can make a huge difference come November. Yes, our lives are super busy enough already…but everything I’m going to list here is totally doable without leaving home, or even your couch!
Postcards To Voters
This is a program where you can sign up online and commit to sending postcards to voters. Some are to encourage voting in races where the individual, handwritten touch can potentially make a tangible difference; I just finished writing over 20 postcards a day to voters in the 12th Congressional District of Ohio, who have a special election on Tuesday, August 7. I am now at work on a new campaign to increase voting by mail in Florida — voting by mail is unhackable, after all. Postcards to Voters gives you the script and talking points; all you have to do is provide (neat-ish) handwriting, postcards, and stamps. Turnout among infrequent voters can potentially increase after they receive a handwritten note – and as a bonus, writing these cards is psychologically beneficial for the writer (and who among us doesn’t need that?).
This one is a big one. Programs vary from state to state, so look into how you can get involved. In my state, New Jersey, I am sending applications for vote by mail ballots (less hackable…just sayin’) to registered Democrats who voted in 2016 but skipped voting in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Michelle Obama has taken up this charge of emphasizing how we should all vote with her new initiative When We all Vote. And if you have $25 to spare? Buy this ingenious t-shirt — it’s an American flag with a QR code that, when scanned with a phone, takes the viewer to a voter registration website.
Talk Is Not Cheap
It’s time to talk politics. With everyone. Talk with a person you know who isn’t very engaged politically, and tell them a story about what matters to you. You may not see an immediate impact, but I have found that, slowly but surely, normalizing my political involvement by talking about it has led people who wouldn’t otherwise act to join me. Imagine if every single person reading this did this with ten people!
Let Your Kids Do The Work
I love the idea of putting my kids to work, generally, so obviously I apply it to political engagement as well. On July 28 and/or 29 (Shabbat-friendly!), kids and families across the nation will host lemonade stands to raise awareness of the ongoing separation and detention of migrant families, and to raise money to speed up reunification. Have your kids host a lemonade stand, and all proceeds will go to Project Corazon, a program designed to help safely reunite families by connecting them with experienced immigration lawyers who will also train volunteer teams of lawyers trying to help these families.
Look at the websites of political races local to you. In there, you’ll find ways that you can make calls on behalf of the candidate – some of them don’t even require you leaving the house. That’s right, agoraphobes, you can potentially change a voter’s mind from the comfort of your own couch.
Share, share away information on social media, giving your friends concrete things that they can do from their own chairs as well. For example, that New Jersey Tea Party guy who is spreading white nationalist garbage like a cream cheese schmear on a bagel (for real: read more about him here)? Let people know how crappy he is, and how you can donate to his opponent.
As they say on some HBO show, “winter is coming.” So clear your calendar for the last weekend before Election Day because on that weekend, you are going to have to LEAVE YOUR HOUSE. I know — that is the opposite of what I said when I started this piece. Well, when push comes to shove, you gotta get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. “The Last Weekend” — the four days up to and including Election Day, Saturday, Nov. 3 through Tuesday, Nov. 6 — organizers say, has the goal of mobilizing a million volunteer hours, pounding the pavement in those pivotal days to make sure people get out and VOTE. Sign up here.