I had the pleasure of attending Pa. State Senator Daylin Leach’s Resistance Forum last Wednesday and thought I’d share some of what I heard and thought.
First, so wonderful that over 800 people showed up. It’s attendance like that along with watching the tens of thousands of people marching in cities all over the world today that give me hope and reassure me that this country is still a wonderful place. The last eight years have been so moving we just forgot that progress is almost always two steps forward and one (sometimes big) step back.
If you have never had the pleasure of hearing Daylin Leach speak I highly suggest remedying that as soon as possible. In addition to hearing him speak on a few occasions I was also privileged to volunteer for him when he ran for Alyson Schwartz’s Congressional seat in 2014. He is smart, funny, dedicated, authentic and determined; attributes all too rare in today’s politics.
Some major take aways…
Should I panic?
While it’s important to not lose hope your fear isn’t unwarranted. Democracies can fail. Two current signs that our democracy is being threatened.
One. Attempts by those in power to undermine and de-legitimize the media by calling them names and limiting their access to power.
A free press isn’t free. Investigative reporting costs money. Subscribe to a respected newspaper. If you can, subscribe to two. Do not circulate false or un-substantiated news stories even if they support your world view.
Two. The threatening of violence against those who speak out.
Stand up for those who need it. You can do this by volunteering for organizations who help those most threatened by the current political climate (immigrants, Muslims, women, the Earth). If you can’t give one day a week, or one day a month, then write a check. The amount matters less than the act of giving. Organizations that can show a wide level of support from their community find it easier to obtain grants.
How can I effectively make a Difference?
The government was designed with a system of checks and balances. Currently, we have a single party in control of two branches of the federal government, the majority of the governors’ offices and state legislatures. SO the only checks have to come from the people. Citizen activism works.
Facebook, tweets, online petitions are fine but the most effective method is direct contact with your Representative.
Your representatives are concerned with being re-elected. They pay attention to the voices of their constituents. So, let them know when you object to something and when you approve of something. You don’t need to be an expert on the topic. Simply call, identify yourself as a voter in their district and (briefly) tell the staffer answering the phone how you feel. They count the contacts and let the Rep know.
Even better than a phone call is a visit to their office or showing up at their town hall meeting or any public appearance.
When you speak out, in public, online, or among friends, focus on policy not on your personal feelings about a public figure. Focus on the gaps between promises made and actions being taken. Remember that there is a difference between what offends people and what affects them. Focus on what affects them.
And as one speaker reminded us, if you don’t think one person can make a difference remember David took down a giant with only a small pebble and a sling shot.
Not sure who your Congressional Representative is or how to contact them? Use this link: