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Ideas for Political Engagement

political-engagement-radio-guth-huppkeWith less than 40 days to go before the 2016 presidential election, political engagement largely reduced to fighting with relatives on Facebook, and in honor of the new show I’ve just launched with Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke, “Guth and Huppke on Politics,” here are 71 ideas for things you can do to make a difference, move the needle, contribute, and change what you see in the next few weeks any beyond where politics are concerned. Because “speaking out” on social media isn’t enough, and blocking people with opposing views doesn’t do anything but widen the divide in the great tug of war between parties.

1. Make sure you are registered to vote on election day.
2. Make sure your friends are registered to vote on election day.
3. Make sure you know where to vote on election day.
4. Decide who you plan to vote for and why.
5. Make a reading pact with yourself: for every issue or figure you read about, go find something with an opposing point of view, read that, too, and make up your own mind.
6. Donate money to the campaign of your choice.
7. Donate time to the campaign of your choice making calls.
8. Pick one issue you feel strongly about, and spend time going down the rabbit hole: learn the background of the issue, learn about major milestones and setbacks within the issue, and then, and this part is very important, learn what the opposition believes and thinks about the issue, and what motivates them to believe as strongly as you do.
9. After you do #8, consider all the places where you and your opposition might have common ground in the issue. Speak from that place.
10. What a letter to the editor.
11. Read “Rules for Radicals,” or watch these videos to digest several points.
12. Set a reminder to visit Ballotpedia every day and read the daily briefing on the presidential race, if nothing else.
13. Vote in all elections.
14. Watch the debates. All of them. Keep a pen handy and jot down every issue mentioned you’d like to Google later in order to learn more.
15. Donate time to the campaign of your choice delivering yard signs/flyering.
16. Represent your campaign of choice by engaging in respectful political dialogue online.
17. Represent your campaign of choice by engaging in respectful dialogue online focused on common purpose around issues.
18. Drive voters to the polls.
19. Sign up to get emails from the campaign of your choice and act on their calls to action.
20. Follow the candidate of your choice on all social media platforms and share messages that resonate with you. On Facebook, write a little about why you share each link and why the issue matters to you.
21. Become an election judge. (Usually only a day or two of training is required beforehand. Some states may even pay you.)
22. Volunteer with non-partisan groups who monitor ballot booth technology on election day to make sure there are no shenanigans. (League of Women Voters, for example)
23. Take the time to learn about each down-ballot candidate and issue.
24. Write an op-ed about an issue that matters to you and to which you can speak with authority or offer a unique point of view.
25. Attend events held by your candidate’s supporters. Act on calls to action that resonate with you.
26. Live-tweet or Snapchat from political events to share with others. Be sure to explain why that particular candidate has your support when you share.
27. Donate time to the campaign of your choice knocking on doors to talk about the campaign.
28. Share fact-check reports about speeches made by the candidate of your choice, from reputable, vetted news organizations. Then…
29. Share fact-check reports about speeches made by the opposing candidate, from reputable, vetted news organizations.
30. Share stories about the candidate of your choice from reputable news organizations. And…
31. Share stories about the opposing candidate from reputable news organizations.
32. Call in to local radio programs discussing politics and respectfully offer what you know and believe.
33. Read news from a variety of reputable sources.
34. Compare stories about the candidate of your choice on different media outlets, respectfully call attention to conjecture and bias, if present.
35. Watch debates.
36. Familiarize yourself with the public schedule of the candidate of your choice. Share upcoming public events with your social network, and re-share social media content during event in other cities.
37. Support the hashtags used by the candidate of your choice.
38. Recruit your friends to donate time to the campaign of your mutual choice.
39. Familiarize yourself with all the issues the candidate of your choice supports, for better of worse.
40. Be willing to think critically about the candidate of your choice by understanding on which issues you align and which you differ.
41. Be willing to engage in political discussion calmly, knowledgeably and respectfully, especially when faced with opposition.
42. Fact-check email forwards before sending them.
43. Recruit friends to attend candidate events with you.
44. Encourage young people to learn about political systems and structures.
45. Encourage young people to learn about political activism, even if they’re too young to vote.
46. Talk to young people about why voting is important.
47. Take time to educate yourself about how the electoral college works. (Try here, here, or even here.)
48. Advocate for legislation around issues important to you by contacting state and local lawmakers to address the issue at many levels.
49. Leverage your skills, expertise and experience to support the campaign of your choice.
50. Share content from the website of the candidate of your choice on social media.
51. Host a grassroots fundraising event for the candidate of your choice (candidates may have downloadable toolkits for this if you Google).
52. Compare all candidates stances and track records around issues important to you.
53. Donate time to the campaign of your choice doing data entry.
54. Donate time to the campaign of your choice by volunteering to work outside polling locations on election day, passing out postcards, stickers, flyers, etc.
55. Learn about the Federal Election Commission.
56. Carry a copy of a voter registration form in your bag with a ready-to-mail, stamped envelope. You never know when you’ll run into someone who hasn’t gotten around to registering.
57. If you speak other languages, carry a copy of a voter registration form in English and in other languages you speak with ready-to-mail stamped envelopes.
58. Call and ask questions to help ensure your polling place is accessible to all members of your community.
59. Familiarize yourself with the nuances of the 2016 elections calendar and share reminders on social media for important deadlines.
60. Share copies of over 1,800 elections terms in these glossaries of terminology in your communities and networks, available in several languages.
61. Decide if you’d rather be “right” or foster discussion. Behave accordingly.
62. Download the Register To Vote app on your phone and help others register to vote by scanning the back of their state ID.
63. Show Snapchat users how to use the app to register to vote.
64. Avoid appearance-based language when discussing either candidate, and stick to the issues, policies and quotes connected to the candidate instead.
65. If sent an email forward quoting a candidate, google the quote, as well as the date, setting and context of the quote to ensure accuracy.
66. Understand the difference between “reporter,” “columnist” and “commentator” roles in a newsroom before speaking negatively of journalists as a group.
67. Take time to think about how men and women might be held to different leadership standards of behavior and adjust your words and actions, if that feels right for you.
68. If you are a business owner, consider supporting a candidate publicly.
69. Don’t re-tweet what you don’t know to be completely accurate.
70. Familiarize yourself with what you are allowed to do in voter booths in your state.
71. Run for public office yourself.
72. Resist.
73. Decide that for every time you pontificate on social media, you also must do a concrete action to foster change.
74. Exercise your right to protest, and be clear about why you are there and what you hope to accomplish by being there.