This is the first in a series of 5 posts.
I'm sure you've been wondering what you can do to help end systemic racism and generally make the world a better place. Maybe you're not able to protest or feel like your everyday work is making a difference. Perhaps you want to try getting politically involved, but aren't sure how. Well, I'm no expert, but I can share the things I've tried or know about. I'll focus on Washington residents and my personal experience, but if you're reading this elsewhere the same steps may help. Feel free to use the comments to add ideas!
Level 1: Vote!
The absolute minimum you should be doing to be politically involved is voting in every single election. As I'm writing this, in Washington state, your ballot is in your mailbox or on your kitchen counter. In Washington, it is very easy to vote, since we are an all-mail-in voting state.
Voting in WA is simple. Fill out your ballot, following the instructions, sign it and seal it, drop it in a mailbox, and wait for systemic change to be tallied up!
Lose your ballot?
Did you know that you can print a ballot in King County (and probably other Washington counties)? Well... check this out for all the ways to get what you need to vote.
Need accessible options?
Look, if we believe voting is the voice of the people, then voting should be easy for every single person. Washington is doing pretty well at making sure that can happen, with multi-lingual voting instructions and accessible voting info.
No, but how, though?
Listen: fill out the ballot and drop it off in your mailbox or a drop box. THAT'S IT. King County has more info if you need it.
But I'm not registered!
You danged fool. Go register! You can register online and vote in the next election, or you can go register in-person and maybe get in in time for this one. Come on, man!
The hardest part of voting is deciding who to vote for. Some people just give up after reading the ballot because none of the candidates are good enough for them. I get it. It is disappointing to read all those wingnut rants and think "this is my choice?" However, there is always a candidate that is better than the others. Always.
But how do you know who to choose?
At this point, I assume you're trying to vote for progressive candidates. I don't have any resources for Republicans or Libertarians or anyone else that is socially conservative or wants to privatize everything. You all can vote however you want, but your ideas are usually dumb and I hate them.
This can take time. There are a number of written resources I use to decide who to vote for:
- The King County Voters' Pamphlet
- The Progressive Voters Guide
- The Stranger Voters Guide
- My union's voting guide and PAC endorsements
- The 36th District Democrats endorsement list
These folks do not always agree! That is totally understandable. Consider why they don't agree and decide if one reason is better than another for you. Again, there will not always be a perfect candidate, but there is one that is better than the others. Pick that person.
On top of voting guides, you can also find out more information from the candidates in various ways. Once, I went on a 45 minute walk around my neighborhood with a particularly progressive candidate for state representative. I've had chats with candidates doing doorbelling in non-pandemic times. I've @'ed candidates on the twitters or read up on their other social media posts. In the age of the internet, political candidates are more accessible than ever (or should be, and if they're not... minus 2 charisma points), if you're stuck between two choices, get in touch with both!
Share what you know! We've had voting parties in our household, shared recommendations with friends and family, and called out candidates that we were particularly disappointed in. All of these are good ways to get even more information and to put social pressure on people to vote. "Well, everyone is talking about this voting stuff, I should try it!" Some dingleberry once said that people shouldn't talk about politics or religion. Absurd, asinine, and, uhh, dumb. We should absolutely talk about politics, religion, and every other thing. We should also be able to say "I can see how you might believe that, but I respectfully disagree." Every person is worth listening to, even the wingnuts and the wrong. Recognizing they're wrong makes your position stronger. And one way to turn that position into change: voting!
There are lots of folks out there who don't vote because they don't believe it accomplishes anything to vote for someone they don't fully support. Those people are fools. Not voting is dumb. Is one vote going to make a difference? Maybe not. Is 50% of people not voting letting a small group of folks decide the future of lawmaking in your city/state/nation? It absolutely is. Voting is easy and there is LITERALLY no reasonable argument not to do it. Unless you're an anarchist who doesn't want to legitimize a corrupt political system by sending in your votes, but even then, mail in your ballot and then go smash the state, kid! You blow your nose when you have a cold, but blowing your nose doesn't do anything to cure the cold you have, right? Think of voting the same way: you're potentially curing a symptom that will make it more pleasant while you fight the disease. VOTE.
Okay, you have until August 4th at 8PM to make me proud of your life choices. Go vote.
After you vote, check back for the next installment -- Political Involvement Level 2: Freddy's Revenge.