I think no Democrat would deny that the last couple of weeks have been the culmination of every worst fear we had of the Trump presidency. From children in cages torn apart from their families, to mocking a terrified immigrant child with Down’s syndrome, to the Supreme Court voting to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people and voting down union rights, to a trade war with…virtually everyone, the last two weeks had already been exhausting and demoralizing. And then, Justice Kennedy, who was hardly a radical progressive, announced his retirement.
I don’t know about you, but for me, I’ve looked on the courts as the last defense of our Constitution, of our democracy, from a president determined to undermine them at every turn. With Kennedy’s retirement and a likely replacement by this administration (no matter how hard Democrats in Congress may try to stop it), we can no longer count on the courts to defend our democracy.
I’m not trying to be an alarmist here, but so many of the rights and freedoms we’ve fought decades to secure are at risk. Women’s reproductive rights, union rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, and so much more.
Here’s the thing, and this is very important: not one single person can afford to sit this one out. We need all hands on deck to fight for our country like never before. And we have to be smart about it.
- We have the most important elections of our lifetime (now) coming up in a little over four months. Every single person needs to not only commit to vote, but to make winning these elections your biggest priority between now and then. That means putting contributing to these campaigns ahead of anything else you think you “have to” do. Pick a campaign, and sign up right now tonight to volunteer for Tim Kaine, Jennifer Wexton, Abigail Spanberger, Leslie Cockburn, Elaine Luria, Jennifer Lewis, Vangie Williams, Anthony Flaccavento. Whatever you have the time and energy and skills to do–whether that’s knocking doors or making calls or texting or helping with data entry. Find the time to do this as much as you can as often as you can. Give whatever you can spare to these campaigns.
- Do not allow yourself to become distracted by shiny objects. We need to be laser-focused on these elections and nothing else (except #3 below). Instead of commiserating with your friends about Kennedy retiring or about Red Hen or about anything else that you can’t fix, talk to them about these elections, ask them to contribute whatever they can, and above all, make sure every single person you interact with gets out to vote in November. Share information, articles, interviews, social media posts about your candidate and help spread their message. Build a frenzy of excitement about your candidate, and stay focused on that instead of on the negative garbage in the news.
- Finally, protection of your rights truly begins at the local level. Your state legislatures, your state Attorney General, your Governor are the ones who are best able to defend you and your rights when the federal government will not. So you need to start paying attention to these races, because here in Virginia, we will elect all 140 members of our state legislature next year, and those races are already underway. Get to know your legislators, keep an eye on them this year, and plan to contribute to their races next year–either to your Democratic incumbent or to a Democratic challenger. Because the Virginia GOP holds a slim majority right now, and the Democrats need your help to reach a majority so that they can protect your rights.