At least it should be…
Sadly, the history of the Office has already been cheapened by the antics of one Donald J. Trump (and the white supremacists that whisper in his ear). As expected, the Trump White House is already embroiled in turmoil and scandal. But don’t think that he’ll being getting impeached anytime soon. Our Democracy is a fragile thing and on today, I hope we all reflect on the need to be as vigilant and as engaged as ever if the authoritarian Trump agenda is to be thwarted.
Though a common line of thinking I get from people, there’s nothing I can I do so why should I care?
True, there’s nothing you can do to prevent Trump from signing an Executive Order but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. It’s important to remember we’re still in a country that operates under the rule of law, whether Trump likes it or not (the judicial actions against Trump’s Muslim Ban should be proof of this). The President is powerful but limited in his powers. Congress still makes the laws.
And that’s where “We the People” come in. We can engage with government both at the local and Federal level. Remember, the First Amendment to the Constitution states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
You’re probably familiar with most parts of this but people always forget about that last bit. You have a RIGHT to hold your Member(s) of Congress (MoC) accountable! People say they have no voice…actually you do! But this voice is most effective when many, many other voices are joined together. Ultimately a MoC only has their job because of PEOPLE’S VOTES. If they get enough complaints from people and fear they might lose re-election, I guarantee they will listen!
This is exactly what happened with the Tea Party. A group of angry and extremely vocal conservatives hammered their representatives often and in a coordinated way in order to affect changes in their MoC’s positions and votes. We as rational-minded folks opposed to Trump’s Authoritarian agenda of hate can accomplish something if we borrow from the Tea Party playbook. But unlike the Tea Party, we don’t have to resort to intimidation, physical threats, and lies. The Facts are on our side so let’s use them!
I know it seems like your voice and your vote doesn’t matter but trust me, YOU ARE WRONG! Congress only exists because of VOTES and VOTES = PEOPLE! A representative or senator will change their vote if there are ENOUGH PEOPLE TO CONVINCE THEM TO!
I admit, I’m new to this type of action but thankfully there are so many committed and intelligent activists out there. It’s good to remember that we live in a country with such dedication and political engagement (at least some of us). Nothing compiled here I created myself but thanks to the hard work of many others, I am happy to share their accomplishments (I’ll also be re-posting updates and expansions to this in the future).
Some of the Actions you as an individual can take:
- Call your Congressperson or Senator
- Voice your opinion at a Town Hall
- Join a March or Protest
- Huddle with other like-minded folks and figure out how to coordinate actions/protests together.
- Write an op-ed, letter to your MoC, or take to Social Media.
I’ll discuss some of these other options in future blog posts for now I’ll focus on one of the easier and more effective ones: Call you MoC! As I stated above, the Constitution guarantees your right to call and visit your Congressperson and Senator!
Here’s a fact sheet with tips/tricks on:
A colleague, Reba Bandyopadhyay, compiled this amazing list of tips.
Just to reiterate some of the main points from Reba’s tip sheet:
- Know if your issue is handled at the Local, State, or Federal level.
You’ll get more bang-for-your-buck if the person you’re calling actually deals with your issue. Your state representative is likely to have more of an impact on issues specific to your state than your senator. (the exception to this is simply to register an ideological position on an issue).
- Important: only call a MoC from your district or state!
If your MoC doesn’t have to worry about your vote, then he/she won’t care about your opinion.
- You’ll probably be speaking to a staffer and not the actual representative.
The call will be very brief, probably no more than a minute. It’s OK to use a script but not necessary. Congressional offices are busy so be polite and be concise!
- First, state your name, what you do, and where you live.
- Have a specific “ask”. For example, please vote yes/no on bill X or please vote no on the confirmation of person Y.
- You don’t need to be an expert on the piece of legislation that you are calling about.
Don’t worry about being quizzed about your position. The point of the call is for them to list to you!
- Don’t be intimidated if your MoC has a different position than you.
In fact, that’s the point: make your voice heard!
- Calls don’t have to be negative. If your MoC, is doing a great job and voting the right way, let them know it!
A MoC can use support from their constituents to help make the case to their colleagues as well!
Of course, as I stated above, a single call probably won’t do anything but 1,000’s might. Below are some other resources you can use to find activist groups in your area, get more info on actions you can take, and even get suggestions for specific actions to take and when to take them.
This thing is pretty incredible. This guide was compiled by former Congressional staffers and provides realistic strategies for opposing the Trump agenda. Kudos to these folks for compiling this awesome and concise document! I highly recommend reading, internalizing, and distributing! Those also send out “Calls to Action” to keep people working together and on task.
Regardless of whether you marched or not, the Women’s March official website makes it easy to get involved with 10 actions in 100 days. Join local groups and get involved with other like-minded activists!
This site is similar to Indivisible and The Women’s March in that is provides a calendar with weekly actions you can take. Great way to have important issues highlighted and good way to stay motivated. But also do your own research and support the issues that matter most to you!
This comic offers some tips for those with social anxiety or just nervous about cold calling their MoC.
Ok, get to it! Stay tuned for other tips sheets for resisting the Orange Man.