If you were one of the many volunteering for candidates this past election, you might be feeling somewhat of a letdown. Don’t worry, it’s normal. As a longtime campaign volunteer and community activist, I can tell you that there’s often a period of “what now” after an election or issue campaign is over.
And you’re not the only one feeling this way. According to the United States Election Project, the 2018 midterm election turnout was over 49%, which is a 50-year high. There are many folks who are also wondering how to keep engaged, involved and to stay woke.
1. Get Informed
Just because the midterms are over doesn’t mean that you should stop keeping up to date on the news. Democracy depends on a well-informed electorate.
More than ever, it is critical to support the media. Whether local public radio stations, podcasts, large national print outlets, or other independent journalism, support news sources by subscribing when you can. The best way to stay woke is be informed and to rely on a variety of sources.
I try to spread my news budget dollars around and subscribe to a few newspapers and at least have a dozen news magazines (like “The New York Times” and “The Atlantic”). I also support NPR and our local public radio stations and subscribe to podcasts like “Pod Save America,” “Intercepted,” and “On the Media”.
I know it sounds like a lot, but you don’t have to read cover to cover and listen to each and every podcast. Instead, try to have a broader understanding of the current events and choose a few issues to delve deeper into.
2. Think Locally
You’re most likely familiar with the sayings “Think globally, act locally” and “All politics is local.” Both are true and point out that local government and local issues often don’t get enough attention. While national issues dominant the airwaves, there are many important issues that need our bandwidth in our own backyards. In fact, many national issues have their roots at the local level--think about police brutality and community policing or affordable housing and local zoning laws.
That’s not to mention that local government is a great place to gain experience as an advocate, activist, or even as a local official. While you might not want to run for City or County Council, there are local governmental boards and commissions that need residents to fill their seats. These are usually appointed positions, and in my experience as a local City Councilperson elected officials are often looking for volunteers to step up for these openings. Make a local impact, give back to your community, and gain experience.
3. Be a Joiner
Finally, most non-profit organizations rely on volunteers to support their institutional missions. Volunteer your time and talents to organizations big and small that support the issues that matter to you and your community.
Whether your issue is criminal justice reform and wrongful convictions, promoting a living wage, healthcare for all, or what have you, join and volunteer where you can. Not only does volunteering help to keep you excited and engaged, but you can connect to like-minded folks and keep in the loop and be ready to mobilize for your issue during the next election.
Decide to keep your talents local and find citywide, statewide, or regional organizations that match your goals. Or choose to go with a larger nationwide organization and be part of a larger movement.
The idea is to stay active and involved between the big national elections--there’s plenty of work to be done together to bring about the change we want to see in the world.
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