Civic Diary: 12/19/2016

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Been awhile since I did these, huh?  Well back at it as always.

So let’s get this out of the way – very little was going to change no matter who won the election. As I’ve noted I think Trump is basically going to be an awful president in a historically bad way, so I may be moving a bit faster, but a lot of what I’m doing was already in the plan.  There’s a reason for that.

Really simply, I’ve realized over the last few months we’re really not that good at civic engagement in America. I’d been assembling a plan of what to do and how to get better at it for myself, some of it driven by the realization that “man, we could do this better.” In fact I could have done a whole lot better as a citizen in my life and didn’t.

How bad? Take the worry over President Trump – or anyone who’s President. The President is (or should) be one person in the system, but we too often ignore the rest of the system.  How many people vote only for President? Or never higher than Congress? How many think of the entire social-political system and if it’s working anyway? Do they look at local issues?

So here’s what I’ve been up to:

Staying Informed

Seriously, keep following news. I’ve got a news feed reader set up and my Twitter. I also mail/forward myself news I want to follow up on – if say I want to read more, call a representative, etc.

I also created a “Debunking” Twitter feed to follow up on debunking news from various sources, considering the amount of B.S. out there.

Regular Donations

I picked ten groups whos mission I support and set up either monthly donations or subscriptions/memberships. I reccomend you do the same – make it automatic. This depends on what you can afford, but hey, its something.

Auditioning Groups And Getting Involved

My goal is to get involved in two political groups/orgs, so I’m going to events and finding where I can get involved.  It certainly makes you think – maybe you help out with a local campaign but when that person is in congress you can have more influence. Range (and indeed “local”) aren’t always clear.  I’ve got an idea of one group I’ll probably join for a specific position, and I’m looking at others – with the possibility of actually doing some direct work with local government.

Let’s be blunt – if you want to make a difference, become involved and do something.

Working The Phones And Mails

Something I did once a week I’ve come to realize works better once a day give or take:

  • Call/write your congresspeople, governor, state reps, or even mayor if there’s anything you want them to address.  Try calling in-state offices and ask for specific actions. Do it daily if you have to.
  • Also call any of your representatives or others who have done things you agree with to thank them.
  • Call media companies or write them on their coverage of important issues.

So what’s next?

A few more things I want to do next

  • Subscribe to some news sources, including local. Keeping up on local issues is often forgotten so I want to stay informed. I’m also looking at subscriptions as gifts if I want to support a given news company.
  • Read up more on politics to better think about issues (I assume that happens with time, but the latest crazy makes me realize there’s a lot of subtletlties).

Hope these give you ideas!

– Steve