The Only Resolution that Matters for 2018: Get Involved
To build a thriving democracy, society, and economy, we need to fight for what we believe. No more sitting on the sidelines.
Here’s one obvious thing I learned in 2017. It matters who’s in power.
In the U.S., I’ve witnessed a constant assault on the pillars of a working democracy, a strong economy, and a thriving society — things like truth, decency, empathy, equality, and a healthy environment. Only an engaged citizenry can fix this.
So, my #1 resolution for 2018 is to get more involved.
We need a sweeping change in who is in power at all levels of government, electing leaders who support the common good and policies that build a thriving society (see my list of policy priorities at the end). The common good, by the way, also supports a strong economy — business can’t succeed in a world with runaway climate change, rampant inequality, crumbling infrastructure, and uneducated citizens, no matter how low you make our corporate taxes).
It will take millions of us to make 2018 a year of real change. So, I want to make involvement a top priority in my life, dwarfing time spent worrying, kvetching, tweeting, or whatever else keeps me on the sidelines. And this must become a permanent change. As the writer Lauren Duca put it in Teen Vogue, “This rise in action can’t just be a thing we tried that time we all got too angry. It has to be a new way of living, a complete paradigm shift in the core requirements of citizenry.”
Many have written about how to get more involved, but on this first day of the year, I took a shot at (over)simplifying it all for myself. Here are 9 key actions, roughly from least to most work/effort.
Find out who your representatives are at every level — national, state, town. I have two U.S. Senators, one congressman, one state senator, one state representative, one first selectman (mayor), and 21 local district representatives. I’ll admit that 12 months ago, I couldn’t easily name every one of them. But besides the local reps, these people are all google-able in seconds. So find yours (and get to know Ballotpedia, an amazing resource). Next, put their phone numbers in your contacts and find them on Twitter and Facebook. Follow them.
2. Educate (yourself)
Ok, you know your reps, but do you know what they stand for or what they have voted for? Many organizations rate politicians on how they’ve voted — the League of Conservation Voters, the NRA, or That’s My Congress. Dig into their methodology a bit to see how they rated people and why.
Vote every time — in primaries and in off-year elections (my record on this is ok, not perfect). And remember, every vote matters. Look at what’s going on in that VA state race right now. It’s tied and puts control of the entire state legislature “in limbo” over a single vote. That’s remarkable.
Find out about your local party organization (may I suggest your local Democratic party?). Find your closest Indivisible chapter. Go to meetings.
Yes, political movements need money. Support the party, candidates in swing districts (even small amounts matter), and organizations defending our rights and shared resources (e.g., ACLU, SPLC, and environmental groups).
7. Engage (others)
This is more about the emotional challenge than it is about time. We must talk to our neighbors and encourage them to get them to the polls. If your local political machinery isn’t doing a good job of this, go back to #5 and foment for change. We have to take responsibility for our neighborhoods and talk to everyone. Turnout is everything.
This is the big one. In November, I ran for my town legislature and I’m now one of those 21 people in my district. I’m also running next week to be a delegate on the Democratic Town Committee (DTC).
Every time. It’s worth repeating.
Final note on resources: I’m proud to say I’m not the only one in my family taking action. Check out www.tellallyourfriends.org, a simple site my sister built. It’s a one-stop shop of action links to help you with many of these steps. But I’m sure I missed many other great resources. One thing I love about Medium is I can add stuff. Send me your resources and ideas for links.
My confession: although I’ve worked on global and national issues for many years, my local involvement was minimal. I’m fixing that in 2018. Change must come from the bottom up.
Fyi, my running list of priorities for policy at all levels.
I believe we need to build, together:
- An economy that works for all and reduces inequality
- A welcoming economic environment for business that creates opportunities for good jobs
- A cleaner economy based on fast-growing and better technologies like renewable energy, electric vehicles, and efficient buildings
- Robust public infrastructure (roads, rail, public transit, water systems, and the grid)
- Voting laws that do not gerrymander or suppress the voting rights of other citizens
- A judicial and legal system without prejudice
- Strong schools that prepare our kids for the global challenges of the 21st century
- Protections for the elderly and more the vulnerable members of society
- Communities that are prepared for ever-increasing extreme weather and a changing climate
- Governments at all levels that operate efficiently and reduce waste, but promote the greater good and do not place efficiency above any of the other priorities
And we need leaders at all levels that protect freedoms that so many of us hold dear…
- Freedom for women to maintain the ultimate control over their health and bodies (and live and work free from sexual harassment)
- Freedom to go to public spaces or to send your kids to school knowing that there are laws in place to reduce the public health threat of guns — a level of threat felt in no other developed country.
- Freedom to breathe clean air and drink clean water and enjoy a stable climate
Please clap many times to help people find this list. I’d appreciate civility in comments. I like to start with the assumption that most people want what’s best for their kids, communities, country, and world…and thus deserve respect. I only ask the same. You can also come yell at me, if you must, on Twitter @AndrewWinston (but I block people who love ad hominem attacks).
Andrew Winston advises many of the world’s leading companies on how to navigate and profit from solving humanity’s biggest challenges. He is a globally recognized speaker and writer on business strategy and mega-trends. Andrew is the author of The Big Pivot and co-wrote the international bestseller Green to Gold.