Post-election Action Report #3 : Got Hope?
As January 20 looms, I feel increasingly grim. I believe, I know individual action makes change possible. I just don’t have much hope that there’s going to be an outcome I feel good about. But when the pall of grimness sets in, it’s important to wade in, get to know exactly what’s generating the bleak fog.
This week, I know part of the grimness is due to a massive sinus thing that’s been like a sack over my head. Despite that, I have to ask myself, exactly what outcome(s) regarding the upcoming inauguration am I expecting? Hoping for? This is related to a couple of mid-week actions. Prompted by a friend’s activism, I wrote and mailed a letter to electors from Ohio and Pennsylvania, encouraging them to “exercise the power granted you by the Constitution and join the 156 ‘faithless’ electors in our nation’s history by putting country above party and blocking Donald Trump from the presidency.” My husband, a political science major and political junkie, didn’t think much of my effort or my request to the electors. He fears it would lead to a constitutional crisis. He points out that a deadlock would go to congress anyway. He let that sentence dangle, implying (to me) that I was wasting my time.
The question I must ask myself in these times is simple. Can go to bed knowing I have done what I can that day, that week? In the face of the future I fear, when I look at my actions, can I live with myself?
Today, I think that maybe hope is not a prerequisite for doing something I believe in. I go back, again and again, to a news report from the Nixon era. (I was in high school, OK?) It was Super Bowl Sunday, at least in this touchstone memory, and the D.C. streets were filled with demonstrators protesting the Vietnam war. The news reported that Nixon was engrossed in watching football. Later, reports came out that Nixon could hear the protestors; they got under his skin. The strength of their numbers and their passion made him reconsider some action he had planned to take. I’ve never forgotten that.
So, here’s what I did this week, despite the grimness.
- I invested in a copy of Call the Halls: Contacting Your Representative the Smart Way by Emily Ellsworth. You may have seen her series of tweets about her experiences interacting with the public as an aide to a couple of federal representatives. This is an expanded version. She talks about what gets representatives’ attention and why. Her comments have made me change the way I contact my own officials as well as other people. The guide would be especially useful for teachers who are helping students claim and use their own voices.
- I wrote to my governor, encouraging him to move ahead with a clean energy plan. This is one of the actions listed in the Action Center of the Union of Concerned Scientists. This is the first place where I wrote a personal letter in the comment box instead of using their prepared text.
- I signed some petitions sent out by CREDO requesting investigation into the Russia thing and asking President Obama to open records about this.
- I decided to use a different email address to use specifically for petitions & letters so that I don’t get driven to distraction.
- I wrote and sent letter to electors so that they’d receive them before the 19th, when they will vote.
- I bugged my family members living in Ohio to call Governor Kasich about the Heartbeat bill and they did!
- I looked at Sleeping Giants Twitter action to stop advertising on racist websites. Pretty interesting– and they are showing results in tweets from companies who are responding.
- I left John McCain a note thanking him for bipartisan work on the Russia thing.
- I am going to call my senators and ask them to block Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as Secretary of Education. They’re on recess right now, but still paying attention to constituent calls.
What I learned:
- It takes time to write a personal letter that backs up my requests. And that’s OK. (Plus, sharpening skills.)
- It’s important to invest a sustainable amount of my energy– this is going to be a long haul. What I did this week involved too much time. My reasoning for it is that my brain was too foggy to do much else. It is possible, however, that I was procrastinating…. 😉
- It’s going to take so many people, and so many people want to be involved. I have shared Jen Hoffman’s weekly call to action newsletter and people have found it very useful. Jen recommends actions underneath belief statements and also offers background info. You can sign up here to get it.
- We are so creative!